Washington Has Killed the American Dream


Hours after Congress passed its legislation to keep the U.S. from its first financial default, Congress quickly adjourned for their summer vacation – a paid vacation, to be exact.

This despite the fact that the July jobs report by the U.S. Department of Labor showed a growth of only 117,000 new jobs. Rather than trying to find solutions and create jobs employment, Congress decided to leave town quickly for a five week period, leaving the possibility of any jobs creation legislation in limbo. Now is not the time for all congressional members (Democrat or Republican) to enjoy a leisurely getaway from building up the economy as young Americans suffer in scraping up money to pay for gas and finding jobs.

The latest jobs report showed that unemployment in July fell to 9.1% from 9.2%, but that is only because so many Americans have simply given up looking for work and have fallen out of the labor force. That 9.1% does not reveal the disproportionate toll the economic crisis has taken on young people age 20-24, for whom the unemployment rate is an abysmal and historical high, at 15.5%. This percentage has increased each year since President Barack Obama took office in 2009.

Due to the lack of employment opportunities for students graduating from college, many have been forced to stay home and opt out of their regular summer vacation plans. So is it fair that members of Congress, who don’t even have to show for every scheduled meeting and still earn their $175,000 paycheck, are able to take long vacations this summer?

Absolutely not! Young people turned out in record number during Obama’s 2008 presidential election, yet the administration and Congress have done little to create the jobs that could potentially allow college graduates to find employment after receiving their degree. No party is off the hook on this issue – the Democratic controlled House and Senate did little until 2010 and the Republican controlled House has unfortunately followed suit.

Growing up, every young American is told of the “American Dream” and hears stories about how America is the best place to work. Well, our generation has not been given the opportunity to live out their American Dream, and is growing weary about whether it will ever come to them.

Working a part-time job at a minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is not going to please young degree-holders as they start considering their candidate of choice in 2012. Obama has the authority to call Congress back to Capitol Hill to find a solution and get a jobs creation package going. It is time for him to be the leader he campaigned to be and time for Congress to stop playing politics and put young Americans back to work.

When young people were promised “change” in 2009, we didn’t expect that the only such change would be what we are currently left with in our pockets. 

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons