GOP Jobs Plan: Cut Funding For Job Training Programs

May 10, 2011 5:25 pm ET — Jamison Foser

Rep. Virginia Foxx

Last week, the BLS announced the unemployment rate was nine percent in April — that's nearly two full years of nine percent unemployment. Fortunately, Republicans, who took control of the House of Representatives with a promise to focus on jobs, have a plan. Unfortunately, it's a plan to cut job training funds. Tomorrow, the House Education & The Workforce Committee's Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training will hold a hearing on reducing job training funding:

On Wednesday, May 11 at 10:00 a.m., the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, chaired by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), will hold a hearing entitled "Removing Inefficiencies in the Nation's Job Training Programs." The hearing will take place in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently identified 47 separate employment and training programs administered across nine federal agencies. These programs cost taxpayers an estimated $18 billion in fiscal year 2009. As we work to foster a stable economic recovery, Congress must take steps to streamline federal spending and restore fiscal discipline in Washington.

In January, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) listed job training funds among the items he thought he could "whack from this budget and [have] nobody feel it." The Republican enthusiasm for cuts to job training programs has drawn criticism even from business interests that are inclined to support the GOP:

Michael Conner, an executive with Cincinnati-based Frisch's Restaurants Inc. (FRS), says he's all for the Republican push to shrink government spending -- except when it comes to job-training programs that help businesses.

In their quest for deep government spending cuts, U.S. House Republicans passed a budget bill that would slash funding for a nationwide program that trains unemployed workers and helps them find jobs with companies looking for qualified employees. Conner and other critics say that provision is at odds with Republicans' pledge to bring down the jobless rate.

"I'm an advocate for small government, but this is certainly not the time nor the place for cutting of employment related funding," said Conner, vice president of human resources at Frisch's. The company, which operates Big Boy and Gold Corral [sic] restaurants, has about 8,600 workers and uses the training program.

Earlier this year, House Republicans voted to cut $3.8 billion from job training programs — a particularly harsh cut given that the House GOP budget would make food and housing assistance for struggling families dependent upon participation in training programs. 

The same day House Republicans hold a hearing to try to cut job training funding during the worst unemployment crisis since the great depression, President Obama will conduct a town hall meeting on the economy.