Congress Limps Back into Washington

Congress comes back into session today after one of the most contentious August breaks in recent memory.  So what’s the mood among the members?

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is no hothead. The message he’s bringing back to Washington is pretty blunt: “The only thing we’ve really achieved this year is the government has accelerated the bankruptcy of our nation,” Ryan said. “I think what people are beginning to wake up and realize is that the President and the majority are determined to convert the country into a social welfare state.”

“Ryan is the ranking Republican on the House Committee on the Budget, told HUMAN EVENTS that and more in an exclusive interview. He said, “The budget provides the framework for our government.  It’s the clearest illustration of the size and role of government that the President and his party want.  The numbers are clear.  Their budget doubles our debt in five years and triples it in ten.  It basically represents an overall takeover of 25% of our economy when you add healthcare and energy together.  It represents a fundamental change in the size and role of the federal government in America away from its traditional limited sense to a much more expansive European style of government.”

Ryan has been a target of the radical left because of his clear articulation of fiscal conservative principles — and the fact that he can explain the most obscure budgetary parliamentary maneuver or other budget minutia with great ease.  (I speak from personal experience when saying if you ask Ryan what time it is, he can not only tell you the best way to construct the watch, but he does it with an uncanny ability to make it easily understandable and, more importantly, compelling.)  Yet Ryan said over the August district break he’s had his most successful town hall meetings ever.

“Our town hall meetings have been incredible,” Ryan said.  “We’ve had 17 health care town halls and they’ve shattered my attendance record on town halls by a factor of 10.  I have never seen anything like this.  About 95% of the people who came out to our town halls — it was the first time they’d ever attended an event like that.”  

Why the uptick?

“People are coming out of the woodwork to express their deep concern about the direction of our government and it’s not just health care policy,” Ryan said.  “They’re seeing just how fast and far this government is moving this year and health care just made it personal to them. There is real outrage in the country.  People are sincerely worried about the size of government and its role in their lives.  That’s what has got people unnerved.”

The most troubling aspect of the spending done by the Obama administration and the 111th Congress to date?

“I think the sheer totality of the spending would have to be number one,” Ryan said.  “Taking over the car industry after the stimulus, after the budgets, and then cap and trade, now health care, I believe people are beginning to think there are no limits left to government anymore, and it’s really got people worked up.”

Speaking of Spending

Just over 200 days after signing the so-called stimulus bill – a spending boondoggle of over $1 trillion, Obama and Democratic congressional leaders have led this country into a 9.7 percent unemployment rate.  That’s the highest level of unemployment since 1983 when this country was still struggling to overcome the disastrous Carter administration and the infamous misery index consisting of double digit inflation, double digit interest rates and double digit unemployment.

Rep. Mike Pence, Chairman of the House Republican Conference, released on Friday a short summary of the current state of unemployment and the Democrats’ response this fiscal year:

Unemployment:  In the month of August, there were 14.92 million unemployed individuals looking for work, the highest number in history.  Since February, when the Democrats passed their “stimulus,” 2.46 million people have lost their jobs.

Employment:  The number of employed individuals in August was 139.6 million.  This is the first time that the number of employed people has been below 140 million since 2004.  In the same month last year, there were 145.2 million people working in America.

Under-Employment:  The number of individuals who reported being employed only part-time because of economic reasons was 9 million in August, yet another historic high and 3.2 million more than last year.  The number of people counted as “Marginally Attached to Labor Force” — meaning people who were available and wanted work, but had stopped looking for work in the past four weeks — reached 2.2 million.  All told, the unemployed, under-employed, and those who wanted work but were no longer aggressively looking totaled 26.1 million.

What are Democrats Doing?

“Stimulus”:  To date, $88.8 billion of the “stimulus” has been spent.  The vast majority of these funds have been spent on Medicaid payments to States, State education payments, and unemployment benefits.  Only $2.3 billion or 0.3 percent has been spent on transportation construction projects, though the President said in February that “400,000 men and women will go to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges.”  Meanwhile, 216,000 men and women lost their jobs in August.

The Rhetoric:  In an effort to justify spending $1 trillion on a failed “stimulus,” Vice President Biden has made a number of public appearances claiming that “the Recovery Act has created or saved between 500,000 to 750,000 jobs.”  The Vice President, however, has not shown what jobs have been saved.  The 2.4 million workers who have lost their jobs since the “stimulus” was signed certainly know what jobs have been lost.

The Bottom Line:  While Americans lose jobs at the fastest rate in a quarter of a century, Democrats continue to spin the results of their “stimulus” and push a government-run takeover of the healthcare system and a national energy tax.  In other words, a 9.7 percent unemployment rate does not appear to be causing Democrats to rethink their job-killing economic policies.

Yet Another Presidential Prime Time Speech Wednesday

Healthcare is on the front burner with a prime time speech Wednesday from the President to a joint session of Congress.  The President will to try to articulate a plan that will assure the radical left Democrat Congressional leadership, and that pesky radical so called “Progressive” caucus, that he’s still backing government-run health care while outright guaranteeing the American people he has no intention of a government takeover of health care.

Buckle your seatbelts, folks.  Congress is back… and it’s going to be a bumpy ride.  At least for the Democrats.