By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday, U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R) from Alabama delivered a speech on the floor of the Senate critical of President Barack H. Obama’s economic policies. Thursday’s speech followed a scathing speech by President Obama on Wednesday where the President attacked congressional Republicans and called on Congress to help him implement his economic policies. Shelby said that Obama’s economic policies have not worked and are directly responsible for the poor rate of job growth and dropping household income.
Sen Shelby said, “We have a jobs crisis in America. High unemployment and weak economic growth have festered for nearly five years. American families are increasingly dependent upon government, and businesses are being suffocated by it.”
Sen. Shelby continued, ”We need a fresh, free market approach to job creation. Stale Obama policy leftovers won’t cut it.” “The official unemployment rate in the U.S. is 7.6 percent. That makes 54 straight months of unemployment above 7.5 percent. However, as grim as those figures are, they do not tell the full story. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the “real” unemployment rate, known as U-6, is 14.3 percent. This includes those who are unemployed, those who want to work but have stopped searching for a job, and those working part-time because they cannot find full-time work. 22.6 million Americans fall under this category. The real unemployment rate was 14.2 percent when President Obama took office in January of 2009. It peaked at 17.1 percent in late 2009 and early 2010, but has not fallen below 13.8 percent during his time in office.It has been a jobless presidency.”
Sen. Shelby said that the combination of lack of sufficient full time employment and sluggish economic growth (just 0.8 percent over President Obama’s first term.) has led to climbing government dependency. Shelby said that under President Obama, the number of Americans on food stamps has increased by 47% and 8.9 million Americans collect disability pay, and that number is increasing by 70,000 a month.
Sen. Shelby said, “No one denies that President Obama was dealt a tough hand coming into office. But the question is, What did he do about it? President Obama’s first act in office was to ram a $787 billion stimulus package through Congress. He promised the American people that it would keep the unemployment rate from rising above eight percent. Instead, the unemployment rate hit ten percent in October of 2009 and remained above eight percent for the next 43 consecutive months” Shelby said that led to a $1.413 trillion deficit in 2009, a $1.294 trillion deficit in 2010, other $1.3 trillion deficit in 2011, $1.087 trillion more in 2012 and, “Although the 2013 deficit is projected to dip below $1 trillion, it will still be $183 billion higher than any pre-Obama deficit. Looking at the big picture, the national public debt now stands at just under $17 trillion, an increase of nearly 60 percent under President Obama.”
Shelby said, “Taxpayers got more debt, but job seekers didn’t get work.” Shelby said that Social Security and Medicare account for 38% of federal spending and is climbing at such a rate that over the next 25 years, CBO is projecting that their share of GDP will increase by 40%. Medicare is expected to run out of money in 13 years and Social Security will go broke by 2033, but Obama has done nothing to deal with this impending crisis.
Sen. Shelby said that President Obama’s spending binges have precipitated multiple budget showdowns, but instead of using the crises to present spending and entitlement reform, “President Obama used the power of his office to campaign pre- and post-election for one thing: tax hikes.” Shelby said that tax hikes do not create jobs or generate growth, instead tax hikes kill jobs and simply allows President Obama to spend more.
Sen. Shelby said that overregulation further deteriorates the conditions necessary for job creation and economic growth. “A study by the Competitive Enterprise Institute estimates that “total costs for Americans to comply with federal regulations reached $1.806 trillion in 2012.” This translates to nearly $15,000 annually per family – or 23 percent of average household income.” Shelby aid that this year alone the federal government has published regulations which will result in $61.7 billion in compliance costs, and 80.5 million hours of paperwork burden.
Shelby said, “Despite the failure of the stimulus package, President Obama put the unemployed on hold for more than a year while he forced government-run health care through Congress.” Shelby said that Obama promised that Obamacare would reduce health insurance premiums by $2,500, instead, premiums have already increased by that amount and premiums could double or even triple for healthy consumers under ObamaCare. Shelby said that ObamaCare is 2,400 pages long and creates 159 new boards, commissions, and government offices and will cost an estimated $1.88 trillion over the next ten years while creating or raising 21 taxes totaling $1.1 trillion. Sen. Shelby said that Obamacare has had a large role in businesses failing to hire more Americans. “I welcome recent news that the Obama administration will temporarily delay the employer mandate. But in light of the evidence that ObamaCare is increasing health insurance costs and making it harder for the unemployed to find jobs, we should delay the whole law permanently for everyone.”
Sen Shelby said, “Congress should start over and craft legislation that will actually lower health care costs and preserve high quality care without crushing businesses with unnecessary regulations.”
Sen. Shelby said that President Obama forced the Dodd-Frank Act through Congress. Shelby said, “The law totals more than 2,300 pages and calls for nearly 400 new rules. A study by scholars at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University estimates that Dodd-Frank had already generated 2,109 restrictions in the Code of Federal Regulations by the end of 2011. At this rate, they project a 26 percent increase in restrictions in relevant sections of the Code once all Dodd-Frank rulemakings are finalized. M. President, Dodd-Frank will create jobs only for regulatory compliance officers.”
Sen. Shelby said, “I am the only current member of the Senate who voted against both financial deregulation in 1999 and the Wall Street bailout in 2008. I subscribe to the view that regulation should protect taxpayers without harming job creators.”
Sen. Shelby said that President Obama’s “war on coal” will kill jobs. “An analysis by the Heritage Foundation estimates that drastically reducing the percentage of coal in our nation’s energy portfolio would, by 2030, kill more than 500,000 jobs and increase electricity prices 20 percent. In stark contrast, a Wood Mackenzie study estimates that “1.4 million American jobs could be created by 2030 if the government adopted policies encouraging U.S. energy exploration and production.”
Sen. Shelby said, “In light of the existing and increasing regulatory burden, it is not surprising that the Federal Reserve estimates that manufacturers, domestic producers, and other non-financial American companies are sitting on a record $1.78 trillion stockpile of cash. If we are to create the conditions for real job creation in this country, we must start by streamlining the regulatory burden on the economy.”
Sen. Shelby also warned that the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy under, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke adds considerable risk to the economy. “The Federal Reserve’s balance sheet quantifies just how big of a risk Chairman Bernanke feels he must take with so-called monetary stimulus. It currently stands at $3.5 trillion, and continues to grow by $85 billion a month under the Fed’s “quantitative easing” program. Among the assets included in the Fed’s balance sheet are $2 trillion in U.S. Treasury securities and $1.2 trillion in federal agency mortgage-backed securities.”
Sen. Shelby said, “To put the acceleration of the Fed’s balance sheet into perspective, it took 95 years from the Fed’s creation in 1913 to reach $1 trillion. The Fed then added the second trillion in just six weeks, followed by the third trillion this past January. Under the current quantitative easing program, the Fed’s balance sheet will reach four trillion dollars in less than six months. Where does it end? Five trillion? Six trillion? Ten trillion? As with fiscal policy, Mr. President, we are in uncharted monetary policy waters. The Fed’s unprecedented measures carry substantial risk and uncertainty.”
Sen. Shelby concluded, “Mr. President, we face a serious confluence of economic challenges. President Obama’s policies have not worked. And they will not create work. M. President, real job creation is the result of entrepreneurship and innovation and risk in the free market. I believe that government’s role is to establish the conditions for that to occur. We can do this by stabilizing our nation’s finances, simplifying our tax code, and streamlining our regulatory framework. The more President Obama clings to the tired liberal ideology that more government is always the answer, the longer this jobs crisis will persist.”
Sen. Shelby has represented the people of Alabama in the House and the Senate since the Jimmy Carter Presidency.