Thursday, August 18, 2011

Rep. Seeks to Kick Start Dialogue about Job Creation

The topic of jobs finally is gaining momentum in Washington, DC. Both political parties now are discussing the topic. The President has just completed a bus tour where he was touring job sites. Members of Congress are home listening to constituents express concern about the state of the nation’s anemic economy.

One of the most appealing ideas recently to come out of our nation’s capital is the idea of a jobs “super-committee.” Congressman John Larson (D-CT.) is pushing legislation to establish a joint select committee on job creation to work alongside the recently appointed Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. His plan would have this special working committee design a blueprint to provide every American with a job within a decade.

“This would allow the Congress to simultaneously consider both our near-term (high unemployment) and our long-term (growing debt) challenges later this year,” Rep. Larson wrote in his August 8th ‘Dear Colleague’ letter. “If not addressed, I believe the social costs of unemployment will dramatically damage the United States’ status in the world and prevents us from emerging from this recession.”

The Congressman then correctly sums up the negative impact of continued high unemployment on every day Americans. “Families are being forced out of their homes, children are being forced to forego higher education, and the elderly are being forced to retire early without nearly enough saved to cover their long-term costs.”

Rep. Larson will file his bill when the U.S. House of Representatives convenes again in September. Hopefully, the dialogue in Washington, DC then will switch to job creation and increasing employment rather than program cuts and deficit reduction.

Monday, August 15, 2011

We Need to Make Our Case to White House (& Congress) Staff

In the August 4th on-line newsletter from Community Action Partnership (Partnership E-News),there was an interesting article about Steven Manela, Human Services Division Manager at Lane County (OR) Health and Human Services—a municipal Community Action Agency—who participated in a recent White House Community Leaders Forum at the White House. Steve credits reading about this opportunity in an edition of Partnership e news. During the White House briefings, Steve had the opportunity to explain to the Administration staff that food stamp/SNAP participation in Lane County, OR had doubled in the past year and that unemployment in addition to homelessness were growing.

In response to Steve’s remarks, a White House official commented that Community Action had to use the same strategy that Planned Parenthood did when it was attacked, namely demonstrate to the White House (as White House staff are not allowed to recommend lobbying Congress) the extent of Community Action support via letters, e-mails, personal contact, and support by community leaders and supporters.

We at CAPWorks could not agree more! The intent of this website is to provide the tools for Community Action staff, board members, customers, and supporters to contact the White House as well as their local U.S. Senator and Representative. In addition, we hope that you will feel free to utilize all the information listed and will also share your own community’s support letters, videos, newspaper articles, media stories, etc. for others across the country to model (and hopefully recruit a friend!).

Save Community Action!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Best Way to Reduce Defecit: Put People Back to Work

The debt ceiling crisis was solved on August 2nd with the passage and signing of the Budget Control Act of 2011. And yet, the debt ceiling and deficit reduction were and are two completely different topics. The current emphasis on spending cuts is misguided. The focus should be on putting people back to work which will rebuild the economy.

Our nation continues to struggle as there is a real need to put people back to work. The first round of deficit reduction outlined in the act (to take effect on October 1, 2011) comes from nearly $1 trillion in spending cuts alone that will eliminate millions of jobs and weaken our anemic economic recovery further by jeopardizing increased revenue. The Commerce Department reported two weeks ago that the economy barely expanded in the second quarter of this year, growing at a 1.3 percent annual rate and last week it reported that consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of the nation’s economic activity, fell for the first time in two years. Both of these reports have added to concern among economists that the country could slip into a second recession.

Quite simply, this legislation does not create one single job. This is worrisome at a time when 13.9 million Americans are unemployed at a rate of 9.1% in July. Not only government jobs will be lost, but also private sector jobs supported with federal funds, such as people working in the defense industry, workers fixing our road and bridges, and researchers studying diseases. Economists agree that investments in worker productivity, physical and social improvements, and research and innovation are vital to getting people back to work in the short term and making sure that our economy grows in the long run. (August 4, 2011 Letter to Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid and Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi from the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights)

What is even more frustrating is that our leaders in Washington, DC failed to include any measures to stimulate the economy during debt-ceiling negotiations. Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, had asked his colleagues in June to submit proposals to spur economic growth by focusing on measures that would “build bridges and dams and water systems and sewer systems” along with tax incentives to get businesses to hire new employees. Now, with the debt agreement in place, there is little room for funding to pay for economic stimulation measures. In fact, conservative members of Congress have “no appetite for extending unemployment insurance” when they return to work after their August recess.

In order to put people back to work, all facets of solving deficit reduction and stimulus for job growth should be on the table for consideration: additional revenues, entitlement reforms, as well as cuts to both defense and domestic programs.