The trends of the past three federal elections clearly show that the frustration of the American public is much stronger than any positive enthusiasm for either Democrats or Republicans. For most of us, it appears that too many members of Congress are preoccupied with trying to make the opposing party look bad and neglecting the real problems that are weakening the middle class and small businesses in this country.
Though there are uncompromising extremists on both the left and right, most voters want Congress to work together and come to agreement on ideas and legislation based on merits and public benefit, instead of which side of the aisle could score political points.
If the president and Congress are truly getting this message from the midterm elections, they need to find common ground and take action on legislation to help create jobs and get people back to work.
An easy and ready-made first step would be to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. Despite strong and historic bipartisan support, this legislation has languished in Congress for more than seven years. Even though the need for skilled workers has been well-documented and employers have been sounding this alarm for more than a decade, neither party has made job training a priority.
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A number of work-force bills have been introduced, but like many issues recently debated in Congress, partisan battles over minor elements such as the role of labor unions or faith-based organizations have prevented action on legislation that would benefit both employers and job seekers.
This has not been a policy battle generating headlines, but it is one of too many examples where philosophical differences have prevented progress on pragmatic legislation that traditionally has enjoyed support from both parties.
When the new Congress convenes in January, one of the first things it could do to support economic growth would be to reauthorize and improve the Workforce Investment Act. There are bipartisan drafted bills in both houses of Congress that could be acted upon immediately.
If the law's existing rules for on-the-job training support were more flexible, this legislation could be used as a strong incentive for businesses to hire new employees. Providing resources to help employers underwrite training costs and wages for new employees would grow small businesses and start getting people back to work, thus stimulating the economy.
Other elements of the Workforce Investment Act can help transition workers and equip them with specialized skills required in the fastest-growing employment sectors, especially health care, advanced manufacturing and information technology.
With the recent opening of the National Center for Aviation Training, and other high-quality education institutions such as Butler Community College and Wichita State University, job-training programs can have a particularly significant impact on the labor force in south-central Kansas.
As the members of the Kansas congressional delegation get to Washington, D.C., they should be aware of this fact and aggressively promote the Workforce Investment Act and other job-training programs that earn bipartisan support and lead to job growth in Kansas. This is what voters want to see.