Is Washington’s Plan Working?
Over the past three and a half years, Americans have heard plans, proposals, and promises about how Washington is going to correct the problems in our economy and stimulate growth. Talk of creating jobs, improving quality of life for the middle class, and curbing the cost of entitlement programs has dominated in the news and in government. If we look at the current economic situation we can see that these plans haven’t achieved their intended goals.
In January 2009, the unemployment rate was 7.8 percent, and over 12 million individuals were unemployed.1 Three and a half years later, that number has increased by 745,000.2 In this same period, there has been a rise in the amount of Americans receiving food stamps. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides benefits to certain eligible low-income households. Those benefits can then be exchanged for foods at certain authorized retailers.3 Since January 2009, 14.5 million more Americans are collecting food stamps in order to provide for themselves and for their families.4 Many Americans are also facing rising gas costs and a higher college expenses. The cost of tuition at a public, four-year institution has increased 25 percent in less than four years.5 The average gas price has doubled.6
As more Americans face difficult choices in the job market, the federal government’s spending is headed down an unsustainable path. The national debt is quickly approaching $16 trillion, representing nearly $50,700 for every man, woman, and child in the United States.7 As more money is borrowed to finance federal spending, the amount the United States spends on interest payments rises with it. In ten years, interest payments on the debt are projected to more than double. Those payments, along with total spending commitments including autopilot programs like Social Security and Medicare, will consume 80 cents out of every federal dollar taken in by 2022.8
Today, we are facing higher costs and a greater debt burden. Washington needs a plan for responsible spending that works, not one that increases economic uncertainty for working Americans.
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- U.S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey. Data extracted on August 27, 2012; The Employment Situation: January 2009. February 2009. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/archives/empsit_02062009.pdf ↩
- U.S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Databases, Tables & Calculators by Subject: Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey. Accessed August 17, 2012. Calculated by subtracting the number of unemployed individuals in January 2009 from the number unemployed in July 2012. http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS13000000 ↩
- Congressional Research Service. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Categorical Eligibility. Summary. July 17, 2012. http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42054.pdf ↩
- USDA. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Data as of July 26, 2012. Accessed August 17, 2012. http://www.fns.usda.gov/pd/34snapmonthly.htm ↩
- The College Board. T uition and F ee and Room and Board Charges o v er T ime . 2011. Accessed A ugust 21, 2012. http://trends.collegeboard.org/college_pricing/report_findings/indicator/884#f9011 ↩
- Bloomberg. Daily National Average Gasoline Prices Regular Unleaded. Accessed August 21, 2012. http://www.bloomberg.com/quote/3AGSREG:IND/chart ↩
- U.S. Department of Treasury. The Debt to the Penny and Who Holds it. Accessed August 21, 2012. http://www.treasurydirect.gov/NP/BPDLogin?application=np, and U.S. Census Bureau. Current Population Clock. Accessed August 21, 2012. http://www.census.gov/main/www/popclock.html ↩
- Congressional Budget Office. The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2012 to 2022. January 2012. Table 1-3, page 10. Calculated by measuring the subtotal for mandatory spending and interest payments on the debt as a percentage of total revenue in 2022. http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/01-31-2012_Outlook.pdf ↩