When President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law, the Democratic majority told us it would cost $787 billion and keep unemployment below 8 percent. Neither proved to be true. Unemployment has risen to 9.6 percent, and the Congressional Budget Office anticipates that the law will increase deficits by $814 billion.
In addition to historically high unemployment, this year’s annual federal deficit is set to exceed $1.3 trillion, and our national debt is more than $13.5 trillion. However, instead of focusing on job creation or doing our constitutionally obligated task of passing a budget and annual appropriations bills, the president’s staff and congressional Democrats have sought out a boogeyman to blame.
Last week, the House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution to allow members to get back to their districts to campaign for re-election. Instead of holding a vote on whether to extend the current tax rates set to expire in 2011 and eliminating the uncertainty that is crippling potential job creators of all sizes, Democratic leaders skipped town to protect their jobs rather than fighting to save jobs of hardworking Americans.
The American people elected us to do our jobs, but instead of focusing on that, Democrats in Washington have decided to wage a campaign against the very companies that eventually will get us out of this economic mess.
One such company is Koch Industries, based in Wichita, Kan. Koch Industries employs 2,400 Kansans and 50,000 persons nationwide. It is a diversified, privately held company that manufactures and monitors pipelines, makes building products and fertilizer and is an industry leader in energy production. It also manufactures many consumer products, including Lycra spandex and Brawny paper towels.
Koch management is dedicated to keeping the company growing. It reinvests 90 percent of profits back into the businesses, allowing Koch to expand product lines and hire more employees. That is good for consumers and for workers. However, as Chicago-style politics creep into the national landscape, the company has come under fire because its owners support free-market principles inconsistent with the current Democratic leadership.
In August, Mr. Obama personally called out a grass-roots political group with which he disagreed philosophically. David Koch, one of the majority owners of Koch Industries, supports that particular group. What sin does the president believe this group committed? It supports smaller government and the free-enterprise system - ideals I (and most Americans) strongly support.
Never one to pass on a lead-in from the White House, Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, piled on. He accused Koch Industries of wanting to send American jobs overseas when he told Bloomberg Television, “They actually got an award for outsourcing to China.” Only one small problem: The company he cites had no connection to Koch at that time.
But the most egregious example of these Chicago-style tactics occurred on Aug. 27, when, according to news reports, Austan Goolsbee, an Obama administration economist, discussed the company’s tax status and falsely claimed that Koch has not paid federal corporate income taxes.
It’s not clear why an administration official would access - let alone share - confidential tax information, but if the Obama administration and Mr. Van Hollen are going to attack an American corporation, they should at least get their facts right.
While no company or individual is perfect, Koch does more than simply remit tax payments. Its 50,000 American employees spend their time and money in communities across the country. They buy cars and houses, groceries and appliances. They volunteer for their local schools, coach youth sports and donate to churches and civic organizations.
In short, their steady, good-paying jobs allow them to be pillars of their communities. Koch is hiring, and the jobs it is creating are precisely the building blocks America needs to get our economy growing again.
A lot of work needs to be done in Washington to set the conditions for a successful economic recovery, but having Democratic leaders focus on attacking successful American companies will only benefit our foreign competitors. Such attacks on American business, along with the excessive taxes and uncertain regulations proposed by Mr. Van Hollen and the Obama administration are what cause true outsourcing.
We need to support - not try to destroy - job creators such as Koch. Let’s celebrate our successful entrepreneurs and companies rather than try to use them as scapegoats for failed government economic policies.
Rep. Lynn Jenkins is a Republican member of the House of Representatives from Kansas.