On Saturday morning, Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) was chosen by the Republicans to make their weekly address. As the GOP has been struggling with a serious image problem lately due to their refusal to pass an extension of unemployment benefits for those who have been out of work for a long time, the party knew it needed to try to redirect the conversation. In his address, Stutzman urged President Obama to ask the Senate to pass all of the House -approved ‘jobs bills,’ as they would bring millions of jobs to the American people.
The thing is, there are no jobs bills waiting for approval by the Senate. The new tactic by House Republicans is to call every single bill that they pass a ‘jobs bill.’ An anti-abortion bill? Yep, jobs bill. Approval of the Keystone XL pipeline that will put billions of dollars in the pockets of the Koch brothers? Yep, jobs bill. Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has actually put together a list of bills that have passed the House that he feels are ‘jobs bills.’ There is just one little problem. They aren’t going to create any new jobs!
In Boehner’s mind, repealing Obamacare, slashing regulations, gutting social programs and eliminating federal agencies is somehow going to create more jobs. One bill that Stutzman pointed to in his address, the SKILLS Act, is something the Boehner and Republicans have hyped up as important to job creation. However, the likelihood is that it would actually create a net negative in jobs. While the GOP can tout it as important to helping people train for new jobs, what it really does is eliminates many existing federal programs, putting government employees out of work.
Below is a transcript of Stutzman’s entire address:
Hello. I’m Congressman Marlin Stutzman, a fourth-generation farmer, and I have the honor of serving Indiana’s Third District.
Across the country, from small towns to inner cities, too many of our fellow citizens feel like the American Dream is out of reach.
Our economy just isn’t creating enough jobs. More than ten million Americans are unemployed. Last month, roughly 350,000 Americans—a little more than the population of Tampa, Florida—stopped looking for work. Health care premiums have gone up. And millions of families have lost their insurance because of the new health care law.
But Americans don’t need to read another jobs report to know that our economy is struggling.
For the past five years, they’ve lived it.
They’ve spent sleepless nights worrying about rent checks, car payments, and student loans. They’ve made that long walk to the mailbox, running through the numbers to cover the next round of bills. And after checking homework, they’ve combed through job listings.
This isn’t new. It’s daily life. But every morning these men and women wake up with a determination and a purpose. Like all of life’s best things, the pursuit of happiness isn’t easy.
That’s something I learned growing up on the farm and something Americans have always believed.
That’s why we don’t give up. It’s just not who we are.
The American people haven’t quit and neither have Republicans.
We’re listening and we’re trying to help any way that we can. In the House, we’ve passed dozens of good, common-sense jobs bills.
An all-of-the-above energy plan will get Americans back to work with immediate solutions like approving the Keystone pipeline and moving forward with offshore energy production.
The SKILLS Act rebuilds and updates our job training programs by cutting government overlap and equipping unemployed Americans with the tools they need.
We’ve upended Washington’s hurtful ‘regulate first, ask later’ approach to red tape and fought arbitrary regulations that restrict access to much-needed capital.
We restored bipartisan welfare reform that helped millions of Americans trade government checks for paychecks.
This is just a start.
The House has passed dozens of jobs bills, many with bipartisan support. Each one would help Americans get the jobs they deserve. Unfortunately, all of these proposals are gathering dust in the Senate.
President Obama’s latest slogan is a “year of action” but his administration and his party’s leaders in the Senate are sitting on the bench.
They seem to have surrendered to a new normal of high unemployment. Instead of standing shoulder to shoulder with out-of-work Americans, they’re focused on making it easier to live without a job. They’re focused on bigger government and less opportunity. More debt and fewer jobs.
That might sound good in Washington but back home that’s not the American Dream folks are chasing. It’s definitely not what an economic recovery looks like. And it’s not something we have to settle for.
Republicans hope the president is serious about making 2014 a “year of action.” It should start by giving each of these jobs bills an up-or-down vote in the Senate.
Mr. President, the American people haven’t backed down and neither can we. Call on your party to give these jobs bills a vote.
Let’s keep the focus on employment, not unemployment.
Let’s do what Americans have always done and pull together towards better days and a more prosperous future.
Thank you for listening.
The fact is, Congress is now in recess for a week and did not do anything about the long-term unemployed. When they get back to Washington, the number of people that will be without unemployment benefits will have increased. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has already provided offsetting cuts to provide funding for the benefits to stay intact for a year, even though this should be considered emergency spending. Still, Republicans in both the House and Senate are finding ways not to support the extension. Seeing the image problem, as the GOP is coming across as heartless and lacking empathy, Boehner has done everything he can to pivot to the message that the Republicans are focused on jobs.
But, they clearly aren’t focused on jobs. They are only focused on obstruction or pushing through anything that undermines the President and Democrats. Just because you call a bill a ‘jobs bill’ doesn’t make it so. If you aren’t willing to have anyone actually study and scrutinize a bill to see if they will actually create a net positive in employment, you cannot in good faith call it a ‘jobs bill.’ Period.