Friday, February 26, 2016

Is Bi-Partisanship Possible Any More?

These days the idea of Republicans and Democrats working together to solve the problems facing the United States seems to have gone the way of the do-do. President Obama could find the cure for cancer and Republicans in Congress would block it just to spite him. It's an incredible place to be considering Obama essentially launched his bid for the presidency with a DNC speech in which he pointed out that we are not the red states and the blue states, but rather the United States of America.

What we have in Washington is a complete refusal to compromise, and the entire basis of the separation of powers into three branches of government was to ensure and even force compromise. When one party refuses to compromise they are essentially in breach of the contract that founding fathers made with the people of America when they wrote the Constitution in the first place.

What follows is a proposal that is designed to garner bi-partisan support, even in an era where such a thing is practically unheard of.

One of the biggest issues facing America is unemployment, and while digging into the root causes can be instructive, that isn't the point here. A common Republican talking point is that America is paying out too much money to people who aren't working, while Democrats are typically in favor of giving the unemployed a check, even when they are perfectly capable of earning a living for themselves.

Last year there were a number of companies in Dallas, Texas in need of employees that they weren't able to find. UPS, example, actually started missing guaranteed delivery times because they didn't have enough people to deliver them and no one else was applying. We're talking about a company that, according to its website, is registered with 45 different employment agencies.

The unemployment rate in Dallas is currently 3.8%, meaning approximately 48,000 of Dallas' 1.25 million residents is currently in need of work. Granted, some are disabled, but the vast majority of those unemployed folks are very capable of working. Even a minimum wage job pays more than unemployment, which could be as low as $65 a week for someone who earns $3,000 a month. For more on how Texas calculates your unemployment benefit, click here.

How do we connect the 48,000 unemployed people in Dallas with companies in need of their services? Why not make it a function of the city's unemployment division? Here's how that might work:

1) Companies with job openings could register with the office of unemployment, with each job opening including a list of qualifications and training information.

2) When people apply for unemployment, they would immediately begin taking part in something of a matchmaking service with the unemployment office.

3) Rather than just handing out a check, the unemployment division would start making connections between those who are unemployed and the companies who need help. They could do this independently, or - perhaps to meet the demands of a Republican "small government" mentality - they could work in conjunction with the many unemployment agencies in town.

4) Corporations stand to gain a great deal by investing in the process of educating new workers in their own specialized way, potentially gaining productive long-term employees in the bargain.

There are plenty of details to work out, many of which could be the subject of compromises between the two political parties that would be working to solve the problem of unemployment. At the end of the day, there is enormous potential for a bi-partisan option that both reduces the amount of the city's budget currently being laid out for unemployment and does so without increasing the size of the government. Democrats are happy because people are going back to work, Republicans are happy because less money us being paid out to the unemployed.

Bi-partisan efforts are becoming fewer and farther between in America, where vitriol and bickering have replaced the spirit of compromise first envisioned by the authors of our country's Constitution. Still, with a little cooperation it's still very possible for the two sides of government to come together and work out solutions that are agreeable to both sides and also solve major problems for the people who vote them into office.


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