Any uptick in unemployment is concerning since it represents real hardship and frustration for people who desire productive work. Yet there’s something condescending about Sen. Kennedy’s decision to single out women and cherry pick data in an attempt to advance his big government agenda.
Undoubtedly, there are ways in which women are more vulnerable in tough economic times, especially single women with children. Yet the policies that will help women find gainful employment and help them make ends meet are the same policies that will help the broader economy.
Senator Kennedy offers a laundry list of government programs and regulations that he claims will help women. But he ignores these proposals’ costs. For example, he wants to require employers to provide employees paid sick leave. It sounds like a good idea: Everyone understands the need to take time off from work due to illness. But such a mandate imposes costs on employers and discourages job creation. Similarly, increasing unemployment benefits or providing more generous welfare programs may sound like pure acts of charity, but they have real implications for the economy, discouraging people from finding and taking jobs.
Unemployed workers who are struggling to find jobs don’t want government handouts. They want a growing economy that offers opportunity and rewards work. Instead of focusing on government band-aids, Senator Kennedy should consider policies that will actually spur economic growth and job creation.
Lower taxes and less regulation, for example, would actually have an impact on businesses, encouraging new investment and expansion. Congress needs to embrace trade liberalization, which has served as an engine of economic growth and lowered prices on countless goods.
While Washington could take positive steps to help the economy, policymakers should also first do no harm when it comes to the economy. Members toying with legislation to mandate a reduction in carbon-emissions, for example, should consider the costs of such an effort to the economy. While the relationship between carbon emissions and changes in the global temperature remain uncertain, we know that carbon-capping legislation would act as a significant drag on the economy, discourage job creation, and all for little if any environmental benefit.
Senator Kennedy may try to convince women that he can be their economic savior, but smart women know that government tends to create more problems than it solves.