With all the attention being paid to the health care fight in Congress this week, it was easy to miss another important (and costly) vote that took place today in the Senate.

This afternoon, the Senate approved 68-29 a $17.6 billion jobs bill.  The bill was not as big as Senate Leader Harry Reid initially wanted.  According to Politico, Reid “ scaled back the package from a $150 billion bill to move it more quickly and attract more bipartisan backing.”

Nevertheless, with the help of 11 Republicans, the Democrats still showed that they don’t know how to improve the current economic downturn.  Included in the bill is an incentive for businesses to hire workers who have been unemployed for at least 60 days.  By doing so, businesses would be exempt from paying the 6.2 percent payroll tax on those employees’ earnings through the end of the year.

Sounds good, right? Wrong.

As even NPR (!) pointed out this morning, when the economy took a turn for the worse, employers were forced to do more with less.  Often that meant letting go of their least productive employees.  But Congress thought it would be good to “lessen the burden” on those who have been unemployed longest.

Well-meaning, perhaps, but it’s still illogical.  Would the government encourage a business to invest in a second-rate product even if a better one was available? If Washington wants to generate growth, shouldn’t they encourage businesses to hire the best person for the job?

And what’s more, these are all temporary tax incentives. If Washington is really interested in spurring economic growth, they ought to invest in policies that encourage more freedom in the market place, not less.  They should keep our taxes low, cut the corporate tax rate, reform entitlement spending, and expand educational freedom (which would save bundles!). Oh, and not pass the pending health care legislation.  This would free up resources and establish certainty, which is exactly what the economy needs right now.

When government gets into the business of telling business how to do their job, they inevitably get it wrong.
Tell Congress to stay out of business’s business.