We must fix housing mess, create jobs By U.S. Senator John Thune As unemployment figures continue to rise across the country, elected officials in Washington are looking at ways to end the recession and get our economy moving forward again. Despite testimony from leading economists for timely, targeted, and temporary measures to stimulate the economy, Democrat leaders in the Senate and House of Representatives do not appear to be listening. Rather, the stimulus bill recently passed by the House of Representatives is slow, unfocused, and unending. Instead of addressing the root causes of the economic decline, the bill passed by Democrats in the House takes advantage of our current economic crisis to fast-track political pork and special interests projects that have been unable to secure funding in the past. This is not what our economy needs and it is certainly not what the American people want from Congress. People in this country want to work hard, be able to pay their mortgages, and provide for their families. Sadly, the direction the Democrat leaders appear to be going only adds to our already record debt, which will be passed on to our children and grandchildren. I believe the American people deserve an honest debate about how to best move our economy forward again, not a bloated bill that will significantly increase deficit spending for generations. Families, farmers, ranchers, and small businesses are being forced to cut back and make tough decisions regarding their budgets, and it is wrong for Congress to do the exact opposite. Instead, Congress should help families and businesses keep more of what they earn. The more Americans get to keep of their paychecks, the more they can spend on consumer goods. Some excesses of the original House bill have been widely reported, and the bill taking shape in the Senate is not much better. For instance, $524 million is set aside for technology upgrades at the State Department which will reportedly result in 388 new jobs. This translates to roughly $1.35 million per job created. Washington, DC is also slated to receive $125 million for its sewer system. An additional $600 million is set aside for new government vehicles, $400 million is allocated to fight sexually transmitted diseases, and $75 million is reserved for non-smoking programs. We simply cannot and should not waste money we donâ�?�?t have on programs we donâ�?�?t need â�?�? especially when they donâ�?�?t create jobs. We all want to see job creation and economic growth. There is nothing Congress can do to accomplish this faster than easing the tax burden on individuals, families, and small businesses, and helping people stay in their homes. I pledge to do everything I can to help make that happen.