Event photos (Flickr)
The United States is currently going through the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Congress and the Obama administration still have a lot of work left to do to create jobs and offset the downturn, but they have taken significant steps to avert a full-scale crisis. One of the central figures in America’s economic recovery is House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who spoke about job creation at a Center for American Progress Action Fund event last Friday.
Representative Hoyer’s speech sought to answer three questions: What has been done to combat the recession so far? What remains to be done? And which party can the American people trust to put America’s economy back on steadier footing?
Hoyer admitted that the economy is still hurting badly, but he maintained that significant work has been done to bolster job growth. When the Obama administration and the current Congress came into power, they inherited from the Bush administration an economy losing 800,000 jobs a month. High foreclosure rates were decimating neighborhoods across the United States. The size of the deficit was dramatically increasing thanks to reckless Republican spending. A quarter of personal wealth had been wiped out, and banks were hesitant to lend to entrepreneurs and small businesses.
We avoided an impending, irreconcilable disaster thanks to the work Democrats have done since taking Congress and the White House, Hoyer argued. “We’ve stabilized the financial system, injected demand into the economy, and created jobs,” he said. “In fact, the private sector has added jobs for six straight months.” More jobs have been created in the first six months of 2010 than during all eight years that Bush was in power.
Hoyer said that Democrats did this through investing in infrastructure projects, keeping teachers in classrooms, helping more people achieve a college diploma, introducing efficiency into the health care system, funding clean energy technology, and cutting taxes for 98 percent of Americans. Passing the HIRE Act to cut taxes for employers that hire unemployed workers, increasing lending for small businesses, protecting consumers from abusive credit card lending practices, investing in student lending, reforming Wall Street, and enacting health insurance reform have all protected consumers in a dwindling economy.
“Despite Republicans’ efforts to demonize those policies, they can’t refute the nonpartisan analysis that shows that they have been responsible for as many as 3 million jobs,” said Hoyer.
But Hoyer urged that Congress still needs to do more to strengthen our economy. That’s why House Democrats are launching the “Make it in America” agenda, which aims to bolster U.S. manufacturing prowess. “The Make it in America agenda will include bills to encourage investments in industry, improve manufacturing infrastructure and innovation, strengthen the American workforce, and create a level playing field for American manufacturers that compete worldwide,” said Hoyer. Democrats have introduced many pieces of legislation as part of this agenda, and the U.S. Manufacturing Enhancement Act and the SECTORS Act both passed the House this past week.
President Barack Obama plans to create 2 million more jobs by doubling U.S. exports over the next five years. This plan is already starting to show results. It has created 136,000 new manufacturing jobs this year alone. Hoyer explained Democrats’ aims saying, “All of these policies have a common thread: after a lost decade, middle-class Americans now have a Congress and administration that is helping it make up the lost ground and building for future prosperity.”
Hoyer cited more necessary actions to pump life back into the economy, such as ending the tax breaks that incentivize outsourcing American jobs, investing in science and math education, and encouraging small businesses and entrepreneurship. But Republicans in Congress have repeatedly obstructed such measures, stalling the delivery of much-needed economic stimulus. They’ve refused to engage in bipartisan negotiations over unemployment insurance. They continue to rail against deficit spending even though they incurred the huge deficit with which we now find ourselves saddled.
Hoyer recalled the dismal economic outlook of the Bush years in answering the question of which party the American people should trust to put the economy back on track. “We know what they Republican economic philosophy look like in practice,” said Hoyer. “Cut taxes for the rich and gut the regulations that guard against everything from Wall Street excess to oil companies’ negligence.” Hoyer cited political scientist Larry Bartels, who has found that only people in the highest income tax brackets benefit when Republican presidents are in office while income gains are higher across all income groups when a Democrat is in the Oval Office. “I am proud to put our party’s middle class record against theirs, any day,” said Hoyer.
Hoyer discussed other stark comparisons between the job creation records of each of the major parties. Only 1 million private sector jobs were created under President George W. Bush, while 21 million were created under President Bill Clinton. And Clinton produced a budget surplus that Bush entirely squandered, running a massive deficit.
Yet the National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Congressman Pete Sessions (R-TX), has publicly said that, “we need to go back to the exact same agenda” of the Bush administration. Republicans continue to favor the failed policies that in part brought on this recession, refusing to lend bipartisan support for the kinds of solutions that will get the U.S. economy back on track.
Event photos (Flickr)