Jackie Gingrich Cushman

“Second star to the right, and straight on till morning.” Peter Pan to Wendy on how to get to Never Neverland.

Never Neverland, the magical background in Peter Pan, is where boys go when lost by their nannies, where children never grow up. Based on our nation’s economy and the actions of our government – it appears that our elected officials might be on a trip to Never Neverland.

In December 2008, the nation’s official unemployment rate was 7.2 percent. Last month, the rate was 9.5 percent. And even that estimate may be low. According to the Washington Post, the real rate of unemployment might be “16.5 percent when you add in discouraged Americans who have stopped looking for work and those who want to work full time but can only find part-time jobs.”

This equates to 25 million Americans who are either out of a job and looking for a job, discouraged and have given up looking, or who are working part-time, but want to work full time. This is a serious, real-world problem that is not only affecting them, but also their families.

The market had a small rally last week, after the Federal Reserve revised forecast predicted modest growth in the coming months. While this might have been good news for those invested in the market, for those who work everyday, the news was not so good. This same forecast predicted no real recovery in jobs any time soon and it predicted that the economy will not recover fully for at least five years.

What good is a small economic growth to the 25 million Americans who are unemployed, discouraged or underemployed, if there is no growth in jobs? The answer – not much.

This bad news should cause our government to refocus to jobs, jobs, jobs - and how to create jobs, jobs, jobs.

Instead, our government officials are working overtime on passing an energy bill that will increase the cost of energy to average Americans, and a health care bill that will increase costs by at least $1 trillion. They might need to consider going back to the basics.

Given our current level of unemployment, in order to grow the economy in a way that affects people’s lives, the number of jobs has to be increased. To grow jobs, you have to make it easy for businesses to start, to invest and to operate. This means lower taxes and less regulation.

While we might see ourselves as U.S. citizens, we live in a global economy. When deciding where to start and grow businesses, companies compare the United States to other countries. We should change both corporate and capital gains tax rates to match the lowest comparable rates.

Instead of creating a government-run health care program, we should focus on eliminating fraud from the current system. If the government cannot administer the current version, what is going to make the next version different? According to the National Healthcare Anti-Fraud Association the cost of healthcare fraud is “$68 billion. Other estimates by government and law enforcement agencies such as the FBI place the loss due to health care fraud as high as 10 percent of our annual health care expenditure—or an astounding $226 billion.”

Before we go spend another $1,000 billion on health care “reform,” we might want to take care of the crooks and frauds who are taking our money and giving us nothing in return. Instead of increasing the pressure of a hose that is leaking, let’s reduce fraud before we pump more of the taxpayers’ money into health care.

Instead of working for jobs and making sure our tax dollars are wisely spent, we have focused this past week on new energy taxes and new heath care costs. Possibly this Washington focus will change once our representatives return home and talk to people who have lost jobs or had their wages frozen. It’s not about grand visions or making generational changes in policy, it’s about making the lives of everyday people better – and they need jobs.

Just imagine James Carville flying into the Oval Office to hang the slogan that was so effective when Bill Clinton ran for president – “It’s the economy stupid.” I just hope he doesn’t lose his shadow on his way out.


Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.