November 01, 2021

Smith Op-Ed: Workers Vanish In Biden’s America

By Rep. Jason Smith Washington Times

Just like those chatty in-laws or overly friendly neighbors who have a way of lingering on your doorstep, there are policies enacted by Congress that have overstayed their welcome. But unlike your esteemed neighbors and in-laws, these policies, if left to fester, can have disastrous consequences for the broader economy and the American people.

Some of these policies were enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, the powers-that-be in Washington seized on what was initially sold to the American people as a temporary expansion of government. They turned this moment of crisis into an opportunity to permanently expand the role of government. A vanishing workforce is the result.

You get a labor force that is 3.1 million shy of where it was in February 2020 – before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic – in a market where there are jobs aplenty. You get thousands of shipping containers sitting idle in ports around the country. You get closed signs in windows along main street because your local store or market cannot find employees to run the cash register or stock the shelves. You get restaurants and pubs only offering carry out or drive thru as they are forced to cut back on their hours. In short, you get Biden’s America.

In fact, you can draw a direct line from the policies the Biden administration has pursued and is threatening to pursue to the economic turmoil they have created. The unemployment insurance bonus extended in the Biden Bailout Bill pumped an additional $15.49 billion into the economy, leading to roughly 1.8 million unemployed Americans reportedly turning down jobs this summer because the federal government paid them.

When it comes to the child tax credit, the Biden administration expanded it and then changed the law to eliminate its work requirement. This turned what was a bipartisan effort to support families into a scheme that could lead to an estimated 1.5 million Americans leaving the workforce. At the same time, the Biden administration also pushed through a 25 percent increase in food stamp assistance – the largest permanent increase since the program’s creation – which again included eliminating any sort of work requirement.

As the White House continues its efforts to expand government, these policies, as implemented, will not only make it harder for employers to find employees but distort labor markets by keeping otherwise able-bodied workers on the sidelines. On top of that, the very same reckless spending policies the Biden Administration has enacted and is proposing to enact are fueling the worst inflation crisis in forty years – driving consumer prices even higher for employers and employees alike.

Then there’s the Democrats’ plan to incentivize unemployed individuals not to look for work by bribing them with Obamacare subsidies. This is also part of a broader effort to funnel as many Americans as possible into a more government-controlled health care scheme so that Washington can broaden the scope of its own power to dictate the how, when, where and what of Americans’ health care decision-making.

It should be no wonder to the White House and Congressional Democrats why the economy they have shepherded into being is so disappointing for millions of Americans and has driven so many to opt-out of work. This administration has directed a massive government expansion with little accountability: monthly child payments without work requirements, the largest permanent increase in food stamps since the program’s creation, and stimulus checks all have lowered the cost of unemployment – making it easier to live off the government and not work.

Meanwhile, those in the workforce are watching Washington spend their hard-earned tax dollars, while the inflation crisis fueled by Democrats’ reckless spending eats away at any wage gains they might be experiencing. So much so the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has stated that “inflation has eroded the purchasing power of families.”

President Joe Biden should put the shovel down on his Build Back Better agenda as the hole is deep enough.

Read the op-ed here.