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Jeff F.
Republican NE 1

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  • Unemployment Benefits

    by Representative Jeff Fortenberry

    Posted on 2014-01-15

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    FORTENBERRY. Mr. Speaker, we so often use the word ``unemployment'' that we lose an understanding of its deep social impact. When a person who is really trying very hard, cannot find good work, it causes much duress, not only to that person and to their family, but to society as a whole. Work is dignity. Good work unleashes the creative potential of the person. Unemployment or underemployment so often creates a spiraling effect on a person's well-being.

    Part of our job as policymakers is to create and support the conditions for dynamic economic opportunity. Yet Washington continues to deal with the unemployment problem through political sound bites and simplistic solutions. These are not getting to the heart of the problem.

    Across the country, many small businesses are not creating jobs. Part of the reason is the government itself. The burden of the health care law, for instance, and other regulations have dampened entrepreneurial spirit and created a great deal of uncertainty in the economy. This serious problem cannot simply be fixed by an extension of unemployment benefits.

    If we want to be further forthright and honest about it, this problem is deeper than governmental solutions and business structure alone. It is a fracturing of our society. Many people have been left abandoned and have not had the gift of a formative community around them. They are alone. Mr. Speaker, all persons are made for community; and if someone is cast out into [[Page H235]] the world and loses the little bit of security they have, well, the best we can do is say good-bye, good luck; here is a little check to tide you over; hope it gets better. No, Mr. Speaker, the deeper problem is a social problem, the fragmentation of our culture.

    Mr. Speaker, I also realize that in many places in America there are not the same economic conditions as where I live in Nebraska. We have abundant natural resources, a long tradition of stewardship of the land, and a strong agricultural and manufacturing economy. My State has also been very fiscally prudent, and that is the same way businesses are run and the same way families run their households.

    This has contributed to vibrant economic conditions. In Lincoln, for instance, one company has more than 150 job openings. In Columbus, the manufacturing capital of Nebraska, the community has gone so far as to go to Michigan to try to find families with technical skills so they can move to our State.

    Mr. Speaker, part of our policy deliberations here should be to try to understand this disconnect between persons who are trying, and have a real need for work, and the opportunities that are out there--yes, to demand accountability and responsibility, but also to forthrightly attack this problem of isolation in our culture. If we don't, we can just plod along and perhaps slowly get better as a country in the aggregate sense of the word, but much damage will be done to unrealized dreams and the potential of persons to find meaning with the creative gifts that they have been given.

    Mr. Speaker, I will just end with this. In all fairness, I think we must do better. We must do better here. We must do better as a country than just emotional, political rhetoric, and find constructive solutions that are fair for all.


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