Hoffa: Congress Must Pass Jobs Legislation Now
By Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa
Published in The Detroit News on January 11, 2012
The latest news about jobs was good, but it wasn't good enough.
America created 200,000 jobs in December, the sixth month in a row the economy added at least 100,000 jobs. Unfortunately, it will take a lot more new jobs than that to significantly lower the unemployment rate.
That's why Congress must pass President Obama's American Jobs Act — now. His proposal to create new jobs is made up of ideas that both Democrats and Republicans said they support. A wide range of economists agree Obama's jobs plan will prevent a double-dip recession by increasing economic growth and creating thousands of new jobs. Moody's rating service estimates it would create 1.9 million jobs.
Republicans in Congress, though, have shown they are more interested in partisan politics than in helping their constituents. It's past time for obstructionists to recognize the jobs crisis is an American problem, and they are responsible for helping to solve it.
Since President Obama introduced the American Jobs Act in September, the bill has been broken into pieces. One part of it, "Returning Heroes," has already passed. That measure grants hiring tax credits to employers who hire jobless military veterans.
Much remains to be done, however. Congress has rejected the president's plan to rebuild our infrastructure and create a bipartisan National Infrastructure Bank. These investments would put Americans back to work modernizing our roads, rail, airports and waterways. They would be covered by Davis-Bacon prevailing wage and Buy American provisions.
Another part of the American Jobs Act would put construction workers back on the job to renovate public schools across the country. It would also prevent up to 280,000 teacher layoffs, while keeping firefighters and police officers — thousands of whom are Teamsters — on the job.
Extending unemployment benefits is another element of the president's jobs plan. Not only is it the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do. Studies shows unemployment benefits are spent, boosting local economies.
Extending the payroll tax cut was also part of the American Jobs Act. Congress agreed to a two-month extension in December, but we need to extend it permanently. Putting more money in the pockets of working Americans is a good way to get our economy moving again. The president's plan also makes certain that Social Security will still receive every dollar it would have gotten otherwise.
President Obama pays for all of these proposals with tax hikes on those who can best afford to pay them. Many of our wealthiest Americans pay a lower tax rate than low-income wage earners. Polls show that most people think taxes should be raised on millionaires. Not only is the president's tax proposal popular, but it makes economic sense as well.
As we head into the new year, our elected officials in Washington would do well to remember that the jobs crisis isn't President Obama's problem. It isn't a Republican or Democratic problem. It's an American problem.
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