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Member Questions of the Week of April 5, 2010

Louise Ravert from Fredericksburg, VA writes, There are so many people that are unemployed. Do you think our unemployment rate will continue at its present level? OUR ANSWER: It is difficult to forecast unemployment rates in the future, since there are a lot of constantly changing factors in play. However, we should note that unemployment currently stands at 9.7% almost twice the pre-recession level and few economists expect it to fall rapidly from that level. Why is unemployment so high? Heritage labor expert James Sherk explains that, It is a drop in job creation, not a rise in job losses, which explains the majority of the increase in the unemployment rate during recessions. Lost jobs are certainly a part of the problem, but the economy has actually lost fewer jobs in our current recession than in the 2001 recession. The reason this recession is noticeably more painful is a much sharper drop in job creation now than in 2001. Businesses are now more reluctant to invest and create new jobs due to the drying up of credit (known as the credit crunch) as well as increased uncertainty about the future. As Heritage has long argued, we need to encourage real job creation in the private sector by allowing businesses to invest and hire new workers. We can do this through lower tax rates, less stifling and unnecessary regulation, and fostering a stable and predictable method of government action. If we don’t take action to promote private sector growth, we do so at our own risk. The economy will most likely recover, but the resurgence will not be fully realized until our government lessens the financial and regulatory burdens on the private sector.

Steven Daniel from Apache Junction, AZ asks, Do you believe that the current Administration is attempting to abandon support for our ally Israel? OUR ANSWER: According to former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton, President Obama’s foreign policy of pressuring our allies and beseeching our adversaries will produce results that will directly contradict American national interests. We agree, and the most recent diplomatic tussle with Israel makes it apparent that the current Administration has departed from previous Administrations insistence on maintaining an elevated relationship with some of our most historically reliable allies. In fact, the current Administration has publicly reprimanded or embarrassed allies such as Israel, Great Britain, and Australia. Other important U.S. allies, such as Poland and the Czech Republic (after the U.S. scrapped plans to build a European missile defense site), have also felt let down by U.S. actions or inaction, and our recent stumble with Israel is another example of how President Obama’s world view affects our foreign relationships and our standing in the world. Heritage Middle East expert Jim Phillips explains the colliding world views of President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu here. For more Heritage research on Middle East foreign policy, go here.

Larry Oveson from Simpsonville, SC asks, What would be the best way to migrate our huge, inefficient, underperforming education system to something that works and one that we can be proud of? OUR ANSWER: Heritage believes that families should have greater control over their children’s educational futures, and that we should move educational control out of Washington, D.C. back to families and local communities. Families should be empowered to choose a safe and effective school that best meets their child’s needs. States should be freed from the federal red tape that prevents them from being innovative and raising academic achievement. For a comprehensive look at what has gone wrong with our public school system and what we can do to fix it, we recommend reading our Parents Guide to Education Reform.

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