Time For A Better Approach: Part Two
Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo
Recently, I wrote regarding proposals in the Senate Republican Jobs Plan to decrease our national debt and provide the tax and regulatory reform needed to encourage private sector growth. To round out this effort, the Senate Republican Jobs Plan also includes proposals to expand market opportunities for U.S. businesses, provide an energy policy to sustain affordable energy options and improve job opportunities. These proposals are also essential ingredients in the effort to create job growth and improve our nation's competitiveness.
Our national unemployment rate has averaged above 9 percent since early 2009, drastically higher than the historical annual average of 5.7 percent. The unemployment rate has decreased slightly from the depression-era level of more than 10 percent reached in October of 2009. However, according to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), "the long-term unemployment rate was higher in this recession than it has been at any point in the post-World War II period." This means that millions of American families have been struggling for prolonged periods of time while our nation is capable of doing better to create an environment that truly improves job opportunities.
American companies have creatively reached customers all around the world, but they have often faced unfair tariffs, unreciprocated by the U.S. We have willing trade partners prepared to lower their tariffs, yet the trade agreements that would codify these commitments for U.S. job creators have sat for years without U.S. enactment. The Senate Republican Jobs Plan calls for enactment of the three pending free trade agreements (FTAs) reached with Colombia, Panama and South Korea to increase exports and U.S. jobs. The FTA with South Korea alone is estimated to boost U.S. exports of goods by nearly $11 billion, and the FTA negotiated with Colombia would increase exports of U.S. products by more than $1 billion. The FTA with Panama would provide duty-free access for U.S. goods and services to one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America.
Access to affordable energy options is essential for shipping U.S. goods to markets, job growth and ensuring families can afford to get to their jobs. Establishing an energy plan that utilizes all of our nation's energy resources will best improve productivity and decrease our nation's dependence on foreign energy sources. The Senate Republican Jobs Plan would advance this effort through lifting prohibitions inhibiting access to U.S. oil and natural gas reserves on the Outer Continental Shelf, estimated to be 8.5 billion barrels of oil and 29 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, increasing federal loan guarantee authority for nuclear power and requiring greater access to federal lands for exploration of resources.
Currently, there are more than forty-four different federal employment and training programs administered by nine different federal agencies. Recognizing that federal job training support can be needlessly complicated for U.S. workers seeking job training assistance, the Senate Republican Jobs Plan would reform federal job retraining programs to reduce bureaucracy to better meet the needs of job seekers and taxpayers.
CRS further indicates that since the unemployment rate is so high, it would take a significant amount of time for unemployment to reach more normal levels, even if the economy grew at a healthy rate. Efforts to spend our way out of this problem are not working, as the jobless rate is higher now than it was when the so-called stimulus was enacted. It is past time for another approach. We have solid proposals to increase opportunities and improve productivity, and we must advance them to better shape our nation into a place where American families can find employment and businesses can grow and innovate.
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