by Senator Larry Craig
New job figures just released by the U.S. Department of Labor show that 274,000 payroll jobs were created in April, 2005. The current unemployment rate of 5.2 percent falls easily below the averages of the 1970s, ‘80s, and ‘90s. Since August of 2003, in less than two years’ time, 3.5 million jobs have been created, thanks, in large part, to the tax relief and economic policies enacted by President Bush and the Congress.
Hearing these positive numbers reminded me of a funny political cartoon I saw last fall, before the presidential elections. The cartoon showed the Democrats’ mascot, a donkey, reaching into an egg basket. Expecting to find some eggs to throw at the President, those eggs representing what Democrats felt were poor job growth numbers, the donkey was dismayed to find that the bottom of the basket had fallen out, and the eggs lay broken on the ground.
Clearly, the effort to paint the continued economic recovery in the United States as a “jobless recovery” was an effort based fear and anecdote, not on fact. It’s worth noting that the U.S. economy has created net new jobs for 23 consecutive months, and there are no signs of that trend stopping any time soon. Perhaps that’s why you no longer hear liberals complaining about the “jobless recovery.” It never existed to begin with.
How did this encouraging environment come about? Certainly not through the tired-out tax-and-spend proposals put forth by congressional Democrats and special interest groups. Americans increasingly understand that in order to keep the economy growing, the federal government must allow individuals and families to keep more of their own hard-earned money. The government is notorious for inefficiency and waste. Private savings, investment and entrepreneurship stimulate economic activity and create jobs. A wise government creates the environment that allows free enterprise and individual initiative to flourish.
The middle class and family tax relief of 2001 and 2003, coupled with capital gains and dividend tax reductions of 2003, proved to be timely medicine. Real economic growth has been averaging 4.3 percent annually, a very healthy rate of growth.
As the economy has grown faster than expected, with so many more people working and paying income, federal revenues have also grown faster than anticipated. Just a few days ago, the Treasury Department reported that instead of borrowing $12 billion to finance federal debt from April to June, the Treasury will actually pay off $42 billion in debt during this period. As the economy continues to grow, that will help fight budget deficits, which has to be one of our highest priorities.
I know most Idahoans agree that paying off debts is a good thing. Avoiding debt in the first place is even better, and I will continue to work in the Senate to get the federal government’s spending under control. Some may get tired of hearing me say it, but it bears repeating: Families have to live on a budget and avoid spending beyond their means. So should the federal government.
We are making progress. Congress has just approved its budget resolution for Fiscal Year 2006, a blueprint that calls for reducing the deficit by half over five years.
Rest assured, as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will be working hard on bills that meet our nation’s priorities, but do not pass massive debt on to our children and grandchildren.
In the meantime, I will continue to work with the President to ensure that our economy continues to grow. As I do, I hope my colleagues across the aisle will realize that when eggs are thrown, sometimes one can end up on your face.