Submitted by Senator Roger Wicker

President Biden’s policies are discouraging work and separating Americans from the dignity it provides, Mississippi’s senior U.S. Senator writes.

At the height of the recent pandemic, millions of Americans were forced out of work because of public health mandates and the closure of workplaces. Today, those mandates are gone, but our workforce has not fully recovered. Because of chronic staff shortages, it has become normal to wait longer for service at a restaurant, a grocery checkout line, or a retail store. Even as our working-age population has grown by millions since the pandemic began, our workforce has shrunk by nearly 600,000 people. Millions of able-bodied Americans are simply staying home because government has effectively encouraged them to do so.

Employers are certainly doing everything they can to find workers. In the past year, employers have increased pay by over five percent, and many are offering bonuses and perks to attract employees. Despite their efforts, there are still 11 million unfilled jobs across our nation – almost two for every unemployed person looking for work. It is especially troubling that half of our missing workers are of prime working age, between 25 and 54. Indeed, the biggest drop in employment among non-seniors has been among people aged 20-24, who should be gaining valuable work experience. This reality is a sad result of Democrat policies that have made it possible to live without a paycheck.

Biden Increases Dependence on Government

President Biden often speaks passionately about the value of work. Recently he said, “A job is about a lot more than a paycheck; it’s about dignity.” I wholeheartedly agree. It is therefore ironic that his own policies are actually discouraging work and separating Americans from the dignity it provides.

When President Biden took office, Congress had already provided ample economic relief to the American people through bipartisan COVID legislation. Immediately upon taking office, however, Mr. Biden pushed through a massive stimulus bill, which extended enhanced unemployment benefits for another six months. This rash and unnecessary move guaranteed a slow workforce recovery – although Mississippi managed to avoid the worst impacts by opting out of the enhanced benefits. This legislation also removed long-established work requirements for welfare, taking away a key impetus that has helped many Americans find work and become self-sufficient.

President Biden’s more recent actions have also discouraged work. His new tax increase on job creators – which passed without a single Republican vote – will tax away money that could otherwise be used to hire more workers or provide higher wages and benefits. This new tax law also directs the IRS to hire 87,000 new agents, which will take workers and resources away from industries where they could contribute to the economy. Most recently, the President’s decision to transfer roughly half a trillion dollars in student debt onto the backs of American taxpayers could have further negative impacts on the workforce. It is also deeply unfair, as only 13 percent of Americans hold student debt yet every taxpayer will be picking up the tab for this massive student loan bailout.

America Must Always Reward Work

Our nation was built on generations of hard work and sacrifice. We are the most prosperous country on earth because we believe in rewarding personal initiative rather than dependence on government. Unfortunately, Republicans have been alone in defending this basic idea in Washington. As our economy continues to suffer the consequences of one-party rule, Republicans remain committed to advancing policies that will encourage Americans to rejoin the workforce and unleash a true economic recovery.

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Submitted by Senator Roger Wicker