Published July 15, 2021
By Representative Patrick McHenry (NC-10)
Op-ed: We need a better plan to get Americans back to work
This year began with a question about whether we had done enough to secure a full economic recovery. Now the question is: can our economy handle this recovery?
Prices are rising and they are rising fast — unsound fiscal policy and government spending are contributing to these higher costs. Families are feeling it when they buy groceries, fill up their tank, or book a plane ticket to finally reunite with relatives after a year and a half in lockdown.
Democrats say it’s transitory and prices will come down. Republicans say inflation is about to take root.
I’d say this debate misses the forest for the trees. Increasing prices are a side effect, not the diagnosis.
With more than 9 million job openings we should be seeing a return to work boom—but that’s just not happening.
Throughout the spring, jobs numbers fell short of predictions, setting off alarm bells that the recovery was lagging. The Biden administration seized on a better-than-expected June jobs report that showed 850,00 jobs had been added. But this statistic misses the larger picture. The labor force participation rate remained unchanged at 61.6%, the number of long-term unemployed increased by 233,000, and companies continued to struggle to hire enough workers to meet their business demands.
We can’t ignore the fact that in one year we’ve experienced a shift in our labor force that would have taken a generation without the pandemic. Simply put, Americans want a new way to work.
Millions of traditional jobs have been displaced, many Americans want more flexibility to spend time with their families, and some want a less traditional employer-employee relationship. Other Americans may need new skills to adapt to the technological changes that the pandemic expedited in the way we work and do business. We’ll need thoughtful legislating to connect workers with these new jobs.
We don’t need a plan to return to business as usual, we need a return to work plan.
To be clear, this can’t be accomplished through government spending, raising taxes, or imposing new regulations — this has been tried before by Democrats in Washington and failed. We’ve seen the inadvertent negative impact of $2 trillion pumped into a struggling economy: higher prices, a delayed return to work, and a politicized reopening. An additional $3.5 trillion dollars in spending, “paid” for by raising taxes on businesses and the middle class, only digs us further into the hole.
We should instead focus on creating the kind of real economic growth that has proven to be enduring and stable. This requires a focus on regulatory relief, sound money, and a competitive tax system. It will also require lawmakers to join the 21st century and embrace innovation as a solution, rather than a hindrance, to job creation.
This will be the central focus of the House Republicans’ Jobs and Economy Taskforce. We will not be distracted by chasing growth based on election cycles. Our goal is to build towards a system that values economic freedom, innovation, and upward mobility. This will deliver the kind of broad prosperity that defines our uniquely American system of free enterprise.
To have a recovery that works for all Americans, we need to get Americans back to work. The Jobs and Economy Taskforce will lead the way to find the solutions that accomplish this goal.
Rep. Patrick McHenry, a Republican, represents North Carolina’s 10th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Click here to read the full op-ed online.