After a year and a half in office, President Obama has brought historic change to our nation, but the six records that have been set under his administration are not those hoped for by the American people.
Americans are staying unemployed longer than ever before. The average duration of unemployment has risen to more than 35 weeks, nearly two times longer than the previous high for any downturn. The administration itself has forecast that unemployment will remain over 9 percent until 2012. A recent Pew survey found that more than half of American households have been affected by joblessness, with a member of their household out of work and looking for a job within the past year.
For the first time, Democrats in the House will not offer a budget this year. The House has never failed to pass an annual budget resolution since the current budget rules were adopted 35 years ago. Budgets provide a road map for Congress and force lawmakers to prioritize items for funding. Under the Democrats, spending has grown to levels not seen since World War II. Across the board, government spending is growing at an unsustainable rate.
The Democrats' refusal to propose and pass a budget this year is a failure of leadership and an abdication of their responsibility. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, speaking as minority leader in 2006, said, "The most basic responsibility of governing" is "enacting a budget."
The reason Democrats will not offer a budget this year is because they can't justify their reckless spending, which has led to another regrettable record: Under Mr. Obama's administration, the federal debt has never been larger. Since the president took office, the debt has increased by $4.8 billion per day and is now more than $13 trillion. This puts a huge drag on economic growth and limits job creation.
True economic recovery is led by the private sector. Our nation's debt, the threat of new taxes and the uncertainty that still looms over our economy make business owners understandably reluctant to expand their businesses.
The cost of health care has never been higher - another record. This year, Americans will spend $2.5 trillion on health care, twice as much as 11 years ago. Mr. Obama pledged that his recently enacted health care bill would lower costs, but analysts at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services found that the country will spend $311 billion more on health care under the new law than without it. The new law simply does not address the underlying problems with our health care delivery system.
With deficits out of control and our country already heavily indebted to other nations, it is more crucial than ever to achieve energy independence. Instead, we now import more oil than ever before in our country's history. More than 60 percent of our nation's oil is imported, a new record.
This increases our trade deficit, makes our economy vulnerable to the whims of other nations and leads to unpredictable prices.
Recording breaking by the Obama administration does not end there. The federal government has taken control of an unprecedented number of private companies, and now holds ownership in the largest bank, the largest insurance company and the largest automaker. This is a new level of government control, according to the Congressional Research Service, and sets a dangerous precedent.
There is a serious disconnect between the Democrats' agenda and the interests of the American people. The records set under this administration are not taking our country in the right direction. It's time for Americans to reclaim the country they love.
Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas is the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee and serves on the Homeland Security and Science and Technology committees.
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