Archive for August, 2010

Congress Needs Your Job Creation Ideas

Posted on August 10, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized |

With the unemployment rate stuck at 9.5 percent and no real sign of improvement on the near horizon, it is past time for Congress and the Administration to start getting serious about creating JOBS. That means putting a stop to the political gamesmanship. It calls for a collective rolling up the sleeves and getting down to the business of leading. It requires getting all hands on deck; pulling out all the stops; throwing open the flood gates; unleashing the hounds–or whatever cliché that’s appropriate to convey the sense of urgency needed to get Americans back to work.

Officially there are 14.6 million Americans out of work, however that number soars to 31 million if you include those involuntarily working part time and those who have simply given up looking for a job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In light of those startling numbers job creation has to be at the top of (and maybe the only thing on) everyone’s to do list in Washington.

I applaud House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for calling Congress back from its August recess to pass a $26 billion jobs bill sought by the states to avert massive teacher, police and fire layoffs that would have made an already awful situation even worse.

In addition, I’m heartened that manufacturing jobs increased by 36,000 in July, specifically in the auto and fabricated metals industries. According to the BLS, since December 2009 manufacturing employment has expanded by 183,000.

All of that’s good news, but it is far from enough. Much more needs to be done to create jobs to turn this economy around and to start bringing the unemployment numbers down.

Clearly, there’s no easy fix and there are no simple answers, especially when you consider the depth of this recession. Since the start of the recession in December 2007 the ranks of the unemployed have swollen by 8.2 million. In January 2008 the unemployment rate stood at 4.7 percent. Since then the economy has been steadily shedding jobs and the unemployment has ticked up and up—June 2008, 4.9%; Dec. 2008, 5.8%; April 2009, 7%; Nov. 2009, 9%; March 2010, 9.7%; and, July 2010, 9.5%. Click here to see an interative map detailing the decline in employment since January 2007.

However, we have to stop wringing our hands and taking tentative half-measures to address the problem. Enough with relying solely on business tax credits or investments in green technologies to spark hiring and create jobs. Those initiatives will most likely bear fruit in the long-run, but America needs to return to work now.

The bottom line is that no one party and no one person have all the answers. That’s why I asking my readers to give me your suggestions for creating jobs, strengthening the economy, and most importantly putting Americans back to work.

I will take the best of your ideas and present them to key members of Congress. Maybe with an assist from you and me Congress can get serious and creative about creating jobs and putting people back to work.

You can submit your ideas by responding to this blog post or contacting us through our website:

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The Fall Agenda in Congress, It’s all About November

Posted on August 10, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Members of Congress fanned out to their districts for their August recess, leaving behind key issues like help for small businesses and the fate of Bush-era tax cuts.

In a political climate as toxic as any in recent memory, Democrats hope to use the break to demonstrate to their constituents that their agenda for the economy will work if given time. Republicans, meanwhile, have been surging in recent polls based largely on their argument that after 19 months of Democratic control in Washington the economy remains stagnant.

When Congress returns in September, the legislative agenda will be all wrapped up in politics with both parties seeking victories to bolster their positions come November. Bills dealing with the Bush tax cuts and small business loans are likely to see action. Other controversial matters, like President Obama’s call for immigration reform, probably won’t.

For House members, the recess was cut short when Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced she was calling them back to work this week to pass legislation that would give cash-strapped states $26 billion to save the jobs of teachers and other state and local government employees.

That shouldn’t take long, giving lawmakers several weeks of their “district work periods” for pre-election-season campaigning back home. Congress returns to Capitol Hill in mid-September.

Perhaps the biggest early-fall gamble lies ahead for Democrats if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) makes good on his promise to force a showdown over the expiration of trillions of dollars in tax cuts passed during the administration of George W. Bush.

The move is fraught with political risk because, while trimming back the tax cuts would give the Democrats at least a claim of fiscal responsibility, it also would give the Republicans new ammunition in their campaign to portray all Democrats as tax-and-spend liberals.

Democrats were surveying members to determine how much, if any, of the cuts could be eliminated without exposing themselves to criticism as tax raisers.

Some Democrats, like Sens. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), want all of Bush’s tax cuts to be renewed. Others, like Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), want to see threshold for qualifying for tax cuts lowered from the current $200,000 in annual income for individuals and $250,000 for families.

Also left hanging when Congress left town was legislation that would help credit-strapped small businesses. The bill would make Small Business Administration loans more accessible and provide $30 billion in funds available to community banks for small business loans.
Causing heartburn for the small business community is the possibility that government-backed loans, including 995 that have been approved since spring, could remain stuck in limbo if Congress fails to act.
While most of the bill’s provisions are backed by a veto-proof 60-vote Senate majority, Republicans blocked final action on the bill before the recess saying Democrats refused to allow them to offer other amendments to the package.

Barring an October surprise, though, don’t expect a packed legislative calendar this fall. The closer we get to Election Day, the less incumbents from both parties are going to want to gamble on risky legislative gamesmanship.

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