Skip to main content

News Releases

Sep 30 2003

Bennett Hosts Leading Economic Experts at Hearing on How to Transform Iraq

Private Property Rights and Entrepreneurship Critical to Long-term Economic Prosperity

Washington, D.C. – Senator Bob Bennett (R-Utah), chairman of the Joint Economic Committee (JEC), held a hearing today to discuss key economic principles for “Transforming Iraq’s Economy.” The hearing served to push the focus of the debate away from the short-term management of Baghdad and towards the implementation of policies that can ensure a long-run and prosperous free-market economy in Iraq and for the Iraqi people.

“The desire to replace a brutal tyranny and harsh dictatorship with a functioning, stable government that is ready to join the world and participate as a true partner in the world economic structure has enormous implications for the United States and our economy – even bigger for the world at large,” said Bennett. “A peaceful, stable, economically viable Iraq will transform the Middle East, if we are successful. If not, we will pay a price that is almost incalculable at this point.”

Bennett welcomed witnesses to the hearing who each have a unique perspective on building struggling economies and encouraging entrepreneurship. Documented property rights, a growing entrepreneurial class, a stable financial system and trade with other countries is the foundation to achieving these goals. Currently, Iraq does not have the legal framework to recognize private property rights and therefore its citizens do not have the ability to build personal capital and can not adequately participate in a market economy.

According to Hernando de Soto, President of Peru’s Institute for Liberty and Democracy, “Creating a property system is more than just building a system to record ownership; it is the cornerstone of the rule of law and the market economy. A property system has to be designed so that it can integrate all of a nation’s assets and provides the framework of rules that allow people to exchange goods and services in the expanded market.”

Bennett pointed out that most discussion on rebuilding Iraq’s economy is focused on oil wealth and that any future discussion should recognize that there are many other opportunities. For instance, Iraq has a great deal of water and fertile land that has a promising potential for agricultural use. He added that the United States’ efforts to assist the development of an economically stable Iraq is “timely, dangerous, expensive, but overwhelmingly worth all the challenges.”
Washington, DC—Senator Bennett, Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, held a hearing today on how technology and innovation affect health care costs. In other sectors, new technologies usually lead to greater efficiency and lower costs in goods and services, yet it is unclear whether the same is true for health care. Bennett welcomed witnesses from the Administration and leading medical research institutions to explore the various ways that technology influences health care costs. Panelists included Dr. Mark McClellan, Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, and Dr. Carolyn Clancy, Director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

“We have a health care financing problem that goes well beyond the budget challenges posed by Medicare,” said Chairman Bennett. “For many years, the nation’s health care spending has grown at a significantly faster rate than the economy, and projections indicate that this will continue. Advances in medical technology are contributing to this rise in health care costs, but the problem is compounded by the way we pay for technology.”

During the hearing, Bennett pointed to the need to examine whether new technologies are used in an efficient and effective manner, and if there are areas where they are being overused or underused. For example, if a new advanced imaging device becomes available, will every hospital in a city decide to purchase it, or can the hospitals share the expensive equipment? At the same time, some new technologies may be underused such as those related to preventative medicine.

“Advances in the medical field are leading to the enjoyment of longer, more fulfilling lives for millions of Americans,” said Chairman Bennett. “We need to make sure that medical technology remains accessible to those who need it by keeping costs at a reasonable level.”

Among the issues that surfaced during the hearing was that the gap between best practices and practices actually in use is substantial. The panel found that it would be beneficial to investigate the actual use and efficacy of different treatments once they have been approved and how much time it takes for medical knowledge to be disseminated throughout the medical community. A study published by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) pointed out that it can take 17 years from discovery of a new medical product or procedure until it is widely used in
practice.

In addition, the panel concluded that incentives – financial and otherwise – do indeed matter in health care. Consumers, providers, and payers all react to incentives, so policymakers should take care to understand how those incentives operate and, where possible, to harness those incentives for the social good. Medical payment systems should encourage good health outcomes and quality treatment, not billable procedures.

Sep 30 2003

Bennett Says Economic Growth Bill is Needed

White House Economists Testify on Bush Agenda

Washington, DC – Senator Bob Bennett (R-Utah) argued at a hearing of the Joint Economic Committee today that Congress needs to pass an economic growth bill.

“Some have questioned whether an economic growth package is needed now,” Bennett said. “But inaction will not bring us a robust economy.”

Dr. R. Glenn Hubbard, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, testified at the hearing on the recently released Economic Report of the President.

“We view this much the way one views insurance,” Hubbard said. He explained the administration sees many “downside risks” in current economic data and in looking at how the economy has sometimes recovered from past recessions.

Bennett also reiterated proposals for temporary one-year tax cuts could sacrifice long-term growth for short-term stimulus. “The administration has resisted efforts to pile-on its economic growth package with dubious spending programs or temporary tax cuts which would only produce a short-run impetus to the economy. It should be commended.”

The wide-ranging hearing today reflected the numerous initiatives and reforms undertaken by the Bush administration. In addition to Hubbard, the following economists testified at the hearing: Dr. Randall Kroszner of the Council of Economic Advisers, Dr. Henry J. Aaron of the Brookings Institution, Dr. Eric M. Engen of the American Enterprise Institute and Dr. Daniel Mitchell of the Heritage Foundation.

“‘Bite-sized’ is not the adjective that comes to mind when looking at these proposals,” Bennett remarked about the administration’s agenda. “‘Bold’ or ‘far-reaching’ are more appropriate.”

Bennett is the chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, a unique joint Senate-House committee created in 1946 to study and advise Congress on economic policy.
Washington, DC—The Joint Economic Committee (JEC) today released “A Tale of Two Employment Surveys,” a report that delves into the growing disparity between two sets of employment data produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS uses two distinct surveys to measure the number of jobs in America, a payroll survey that measures the number of people employers have on their payrolls and a household survey that measures the number of
individuals who report being employed.

“Measuring the economy is difficult in any circumstance, but nowhere is it more important than when assessing the labor market as the nation recovers from a recession,” said JEC Chairman Bennett.

The payroll survey released earlier this month indicates that the number of jobs has declined by 1.1 million since the end of the recession in November 2001, while the household survey indicates that the number of employed people has increased by 1.4 million. This jobs gap of 2.5 million is unprecedented. The JEC made calculations to control for an unusually large statistical adjustment the BLS made to its household estimate in January 2003. Making this correction, the JEC found that the household series still shows a gain of 1.1 million employed workers since the
end of the recession and a jobs gap of 2.2 million.

The BLS states that the payroll survey provides a more comprehensive estimate of the number of people on the payrolls of established organizations. However, only the household survey measures those self-employed and those working in agriculture.

“The disparity between the two surveys may be due to inaccuracies in the surveys, changes in the workforce, or both; only time will tell. For these reasons, focusing only on the payroll survey is misleading. Analysts should consider both the household and payroll surveys in trying to understand the employment situation,” said Bennett.

The complete report can be viewed at https://www.jec.senate.gov.

Sep 05 2003

Chairman Bennett: "Economy is Turning the Corner"

Bennett Explores the Current Employment Situation at JEC Hearing

Washington, DC—Senator Bob Bennett (R-UT), chairman of the Joint Economic Committee (JEC), held a hearing today to discuss the August employment numbers with Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Kathleen Utgoff. Bennett discussed the state of the current economy and asked the commissioner about a seemingly significant discrepancy in the employment numbers.

“Though not widely known, employment figures come from two different surveys,” said Chairman Bennett. “The BLS surveys individual households to determine the unemployment rate, while it asks businesses about the number of people on their payrolls to determine how many jobs have been gained or lost. Congress relies on these statistics to make policy decisions, and we need to be sure we are acting on the most accurate and complete statistics available.”

According to the household survey, the number of employed people has increased by 1.4 million since the end of the recession. The payroll survey, in contrast, indicates that roughly 1.1 million jobs have been lost over that period. Some of the disparity may reflect methodological differences between the two surveys, or it may be telling us of fundamental changes in our economy. A significant difference between the two surveys is that the household survey accounts for those who are self employed and for small emerging businesses that may be overlooked by the payroll survey.

Chairman Bennett also pointed to many measures that suggest that the economy is turning the corner. Economic growth in the second quarter exceeded three percent, and many forecasters anticipate further acceleration this quarter. The unemployment rate declined slightly from 6.2 percent to 6.1 percent in August, down from its peak of 6.4 percent in June, and well below the peaks of the 1980s and early 1990s.

“I am optimistic about recent developments in our economy, and believe the economic growth that is occurring will soon translate into resumed job growth,” said Chairman Bennett.

Senator Bennett’s complete statement and charts referred to in the hearing can be viewed at https://www.jec.senate.gov.

Aug 01 2003

Economy Continues to Show Signs of Growth

JEC Report Highlights Trends of Economic Growth

Washington, DC—The Joint Economic Committee (JEC) today released “10 Facts About the Economy,” a report that highlights a number of positive trends that have developed throughout the last few years. Despite challenges in some sectors of the economy, the fundamentals of the U.S. economy remain strong, including America’s world-class productivity levels and growth, and long-sought price stability.

“We are in the midst of the first recovery of a new economy,” said JEC Chairman Bob Bennett. “With the rise of information technology we are experiencing dynamics never before encountered. Real-time inventory capability has streamlined business practices and an increase in productivity due to technological advances affects the job market in new ways. Despite the pace of the current economic recovery, I am confident the second half of this year will see
stronger economic growth.”

The report points out that despite a series of unforeseeable shocks, the economy continues to grow. Since the end of the recession in November of 2001, incomes and spending have grown, and home sales have hit record highs. In addition, it was announced today that the unemployment rate saw a modest decrease, keeping the rate well below the peaks of the previous recessions in the 1980s and early 1990s.

The report follows economic indicators released this week from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) showing a surprising 2.4 percent increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the second quarter of this year. This increase exceeded expectations for two primary reasons. First, business investment rebounded more quickly than many economists had predicted, with business spending on equipment and software increasing at a 7.5 percent annualized rate, and investment in offices, factories, and other structures increasing at a 4.8 percent rate. This is a positive signal for a long-awaited resurgence of business investment activity. Second, government spending increased significantly, reflecting a sharp increase in defense spending.

The report can be found on the JEC website at https://www.jec.senate.gov, or contact Rebecca Wilder at (202) 224-0379.