Congressman Allen West – Legislative Low Down and Weekly Wrap Up 6/3/12

Dear Patriot,

Greetings to our Constituents, fellow Floridians, and all Americans.  It is time again for my weekly update report to you all, marking the end of another month.

With the end of another month, we have just received another monthly jobs report.

It has never been more evident that President Barack Obama’s policies have failed you, my fellow Americans.  He has taken a situation that was bad and made it catastrophically worse.

This current jobs report marks the 40th consecutive month of eight percent or higher unemployment, the longest sustained period of such unemployment since the Great Depression, and the worst economic recovery in United States history.

Despite assuring Americans that his plans of growing government and raising taxes will help the economy, the President’s policies result in just the opposite as the unemployment rate continues to increase, now at 8.2 percent, and families continue to struggle.

The economy picked up only 69,000 jobs in May, well below even the lowest expectations.  Actually, if the U6 computation for unemployment is used (which includes the unemployed, underemployed, and discouraged job seekers) the rate is closer to 14.5 percent.

President Obama continues to disappoint the American people without any real solutions for how to turn this country around.  Instead, he ignores the dismal reality facing most families.  It is simply unacceptable.

The United States House of Representatives has sent more than 30 jobs-related pieces of legislation to the United States Senate, which continues to sit on Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s desk.  These bills are based upon policies which will enable job creators to get Americans back to work.  However, instead of signing them, the Democrats and this Administration continue to play politics with Americans’ lives.

The President has a clear vision for this country, but unfortunately it includes job-killing overregulation, increased taxes, and a healthcare plan that has already had devastating effects on the economy, before it has even been fully implemented.

Americans deserve a response from President Obama on this very somber jobs report. They deserve a response that does not point the finger or blame, but takes responsibility for the three and a half years of failed economic policies. President Obama has been in office, flying around the country and the world, without anything to show for it in the way of improving American lives or building confidence in this economy.

Any way you look at it, we are suffering though the weakest recovery since the Great Depression. The following figures demonstrate—regardless of what the unemployment rate might be—that the President’s agenda is detrimental for the economy as a whole and especially for the nation’s most vulnerable citizens.

  •  Job Growth Slowest Among Post-War Recoveries: According to data from the Minneapolis Federal Reserve, after the same amount of time following a recession, the average job growth in the past 10 recoveries was 6.9 percent. Under President Obama, jobs have grown by just 1.9 percent.
  • GDP Growth Revised Down, Trending Down: On May 31 the Bureau Of Economic Analysis announced that the economy grew at a 1.9 percent pace in the first quarter of this year, slower than the 2.2 percent rate initially reported. GDP growth in the first quarter of 2012 was down from the 3 percent growth in fourth quarter of 2011. On an annualized basis, GDP growth in 2011 was 1.7 percent, down from 3 percent in 2010.
  • 1 in 2 People are Now Poor or Low-Income: According to a December Census Bureau report, nearly half of all Americans are now classified as poor or low-income as a result of the Obama Economy. The 97.3 million Americans who fall into the low-income category combined with the 49.1 million who fall below the poverty line now equal 146.4 million people or 48 percent of the United States population.
  • Record Number of Americans on Food Stamps: The number of Americans receiving food stamps as of February 2012 was 46.3 million. Today, 15 percent of Americans receive food stamps, an increase of 44 percent since President Obama took office.
  • Half of Recent College Graduates Are Jobless: More than 50 percent of recent college graduates are unemployed. About 1.5 million, or 53.6 percent, of bachelor’s degree-holders under the age of 25 last year were jobless or underemployed.
  • Ease of Starting a Business in the United States fell from 4th to 13th: According to the World Bank’s Doing Business 2012 report, the United States now ranks 13th in the world in the ease of starting a new business and has been steadily declining since President Obama took office. In 2011, the United States was 8th. In 2009, the United States was ranked 6th. It was 4th in 2008 and 3rd in 2007.
  • Economic Growth Lagging Far Behind Historic Recoveries: In an economic failure unprecedented in postwar America, the Bureau of Economic Analysis statistics for the first quarter of 2012 show that 18 quarters after the start of the recession, this recovery has still not matched its pre-recession real per capita GDP level. On average, America’s postwar economy has recovered all lost real per capita income by the 6th quarter after the recession’s start—about a year and a half—while this recovery has still not recovered after 18 quarters—over 4 years.
  • The American People Know that the President’s Policies are Making the Economy Worse: According to a May 21 NBC/WSJ poll, only 33 percent of respondents believe the economy will get better in the next year, down five points from April and seven points from March. In addition, approval of President Obama’s handling of the economy stands at 43 percent, down two points from last month, his worst showing on this question since December. And just a third of respondents (33 percent) think the nation is headed in the right direction. In a May Washington Post poll, 83 percent of those in the poll rated the state of the economy as “poor” or “not so good,” a much higher portion of negative views than at any other time in the 10 years preceding the recession.
  • Total Employment Still Down: While the unemployment rate has fallen in recent months, the actual number of people in the United States with a job has decreased by 322,000 since President Obama took office.
  • Percentage of Working Americans at a 30-Year Low: The labor force participation rate, which measures the percentage of able Americans working or looking for work, was at a 32-year low of 63.6 percent in April. Much of the recent decline in the unemployment rate can be attributed to the historic drop in labor force participation as more and more American give up on finding a job.
  • Youth Unemployment Worst since the Great Depression: The unemployment rate among youth job seekers between the ages of 16 and 19 was 24.9 percent in April. Youth unemployment has been above 23 percent for 34 months, the longest streak since the Great Depression.

The Obama Administration and the media can attempt to spin these facts however they wish, but the facts themselves don’t lie. Every day, more and more Americans are waking up to the truth.

Steadfast and Loyal,

Legislative Update:

– Intelligence Authorization — On Thursday, the House of Representatives approved H.R. 5743, the Intelligence Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2013, by a vote of 386-28, I VOTED YES.  The bill would authorize the intelligence activities of the United States government for Fiscal Year 2013.  This bill would fund the requirements of the men and women of the Intelligence Community (military and civilian), many of whom directly support the war zones or are engaged in other dangerous operations to keep Americans safe.  These activities are intended to enhance national security, support and assist the Armed Forces, and facilitate United States foreign policy.  This is the principal source of funding for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and provides resources for the coordination of programs, budget oversight, and management of the intelligence agencies.  On an unclassified basis, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that spending subject to appropriations under section 103 of the bill would cost $525 million over the Fiscal Year 2013-2017 period, in addition to the authorization of $514 million in direct spending to the Central Intelligence Agency Retirement and Disability System (CIARDS).
– MilCon/VA Appropriations — Also on Thursday, the House of Representatives approved H.R. 5854, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2013, by a vote of 407-12, I VOTED YES.  The bill would provide a total of $71.7 billion in non-emergency, discretionary budget authority for Military Construction and Veterans Affairs in Fiscal Year 2013, which is the same as the Fiscal Year 2012 level. The bill would provide $10.6 billion for military construction projects, a decrease of $2.4 billion below last year’s level and $573 million below the President’s request. Funding for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) programs in Fiscal Year 2013 would include $60.7 billion in discretionary funding which is $2.3 billion above last year. In addition, the legislation would provide $54.5 billion in advance appropriations for VA medical accounts in Fiscal Year 2014. Including $74.6 billion in mandatory spending, which does not count against the subcommittee’s allocation, the bill would provide a total of $146.3 billion in budget authority for Military Construction and Veterans Affairs funding in Fiscal Year 2013. H.R. 5854 would contribute to an overall level of discretionary budget authority of $1.028 trillion for Fiscal Year 2013 as contained in H. Con. Res. 112, the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2013.

Next Week:

 Energy and Water Appropriations (continuing consideration) —  The House of Representatives will continue consideration of H.R. 5325, the Energy and Water Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2013.  The bill would provide a total of $32.09 billion in non-emergency, discretionary budget authority for the agencies and programs funded through the Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill. Budget authority in the bill would be a reduction of $965 million or 3 percent below the spending level requested by the President for Fiscal Year 2013 and $87 million or 0.3 percent above the Fiscal Year 2012 funding level. H.R. 5325 would contribute to an overall level of discretionary budget authority of $1.028 trillion for Fiscal Year 2013 as contained in H. Con. Res. 112, the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2013.

– Additional Appropriations — The House of Representatives is also expected to continue consideration of Fiscal Year 2013 appropriations bills, and will likely take up the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations bill and/or the Legislative Branch Appropriations bill. The DHS Appropriations bill would provide $39.1 billion in discretionary funding for DHS, a decrease of $484 million below last year’s level and a decrease of $393 million below the President’s request. The Legislative Branch Appropriations bill, excluding Senate-only items, would provide $3.3 billion, for the House of Representatives, the support agencies of the United States Congress, services for visitors, and United States Capitol operations and maintenance, which is $34 million below last year’s level and $190 million below the requested level.

– Preventing Obamacare tax increases — Also next week, the House of Representatives is expected to consider a package of bills to repeal the onerous 2.3% medical device excise tax (H.R. 436), to restore the ability to use tax preferred health accounts (i.e. FSAs, HRAs, HSAs, and Archer MSAs) for over-the-counter medicines without a prescription (H.R. 5842), and to allow for the payout of unused Flexible Spending Account (FSA) balances, up to $500, at the end of a plan year, as ordinary wages (H.R. 1004).

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