The Jobs Deficit: Tell Congress To Act

Isaiah J. Poole

The jobs deficit is our No. 1 domestic economic priority, but today members of both houses of Congress behaved as if it’s no big deal.

The House was scheduled today to vote on a jobs and tax extenders bill after Democratic leaders cut back the size of the bill to address the concerns of Blue Dog conservative Democrats. But even with that change, the Blue Dogs refused to get on board.

Activists working under the banner of the Jobs for America Now coalition were bombarding the Congress with calls today, saying e

House Democrats have cut back on the size of a jobs and tax extenders bill Thursday night, the legislation is still facing uncertainty in both the House and the Senate at this hour. Congress Daily reports that the Blue Dog coalition of conservative Democrats are saying “no” to even the meager deal that the Democratic leadership hammered out.

When the economy is at risk of teetering into the second trough of a double-dip recession, the message must be clear, as ASFCME put it in a full-page ad in The Washington Post today: “Deficits matter. But jobs matter more.”

So an all-hands-on-deck mobilization is taking place now to tell members in both houses to respond to our jobs emergency now and vote “yes” on HR 4213. A click-to-call page has been set up at the Jobs for America Now website.

In addition to calls to individual members, activists are calling House and Senate leaders—House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Minority Leader John Boehner, plus Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

That legislation (detailed in this fact sheet) includes money for extended unemployment benefits and health insurance subsidies, tax credits for job creation and modest increases in Medicare reimbursements. It would be paid for by either closing or narrowing a number of tax loopholes for the wealthy and corporations, including the “carried interest” loophole that taxes types of investment income at a lower rate than earned income.

AFSCME: Deficits matter. But jobs matter moreA Congress Daily bulletin today has Blue Dogs telling House leaders to “go back to the drawing board and pay for even more of a $143 billion package of tax breaks and unemployment benefits, casting doubt on the chances of a House vote today. After a coalition meeting with Majority Leader [Steny] Hoyer, Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D., said many Blue Dogs are ‘firm no’s’[ at this point. … Democratic leaders agreed to trim nearly $50 billion from the price tag Wednesday but that was not enough for the Blue Dogs, who said the remaining $84 billion added to the deficit is still too high.”

Blue Dog complaints about the jobs spending not being “paid for” is disingenuous since this same group of conservatives have opposed every serious effort to turn to Wall Street and to the wealthy and ask them to help pay to repair the damage that Wall Street’s recklessness caused.

The Jobs for America Now coalition has Herseth Sandlin on a target list of about 50 House members and eight Senate members who are being targeted for calls today.

The message: There is nothing more important for the renewal of the economy—and for that matter reducing the federal deficit in the long term—than putting Americans back to work, and supporting them while they look for work.

And as we do that, we need to restore some equity to the tax code. Billionaire hedge-fund managers should not have their income taxed at a lower rate (15 percent) than their secretaries (up to 28 percent). The bill makes modest changes in “carried interest” taxation. Some progressives wish what’s in the House bill would go farther, but it’s a start.

Meanwhile, Congress is about to weigh an $84 billion emergency war spending bill. Are the Blue Dogs going to insist that we “pay for” the war in Afghanistan with something other than a Chinese credit card? Will conservatives in either house go after waste and questionable spending priorities in the military budget with the same vigor that they are attacking a proposal to spend $23 billion to prevent more than 100,000 teacher layoffs?

Don’t wait for an answer. Jobs are the real emergency. Here are the members of the House and Senate that activists in the jobs coalition are calling today:

Capitol Switchboard: (202) 224-3121

House

Baird, Brian, D-Conn
Costello, Jerry, D-Ill.
Cuellar, Henry, D-Texas
Dahlkemper, Kathy, D-Pa.
Doggett, Lloyd, D-Texas
Giffords, Gabrielle, D-Ariz.
Heinrich, Martin, D-N.M.
Hill, Baron, D-Ind.
Inslee, Jay, D-Wash.
Kagen, Steve, D-Wis.
Kissell, Larry, D-N.C.
Klein, Ron, D-Fla.
Lipinski, Daniel, D-Ill.
Maffei. Dan, D-N.Y.
McMahon, Mike, D-N.Y.
Michaud, Michael, D-Me.
Murphy, Chris, D-Conn.
Quigley, Mike, D-Ill.
Salazar, John, D-Colo.
Schrader, Kurt, D-Ore.
Smith, Adam, D-Wash.
Titus, Dina, D-Nev.
Visclosky, Peter, D-Ind.


Arcuri, Michael, D-N.Y.
Boswell, Leonard, D-Iowa
Boyd, F. Allen, D-Fla.
Costa, Jim, D-Calif.
Ellsworth, Brad, D-Ind.
Eshoo, Anna, D-Calif.
Herseth-Sandlin, Stephanie, D-S.D.
Hodes, Paul, D-N.H.
KosmasSuzanne, D-Fla.
Kratovil, Frank, D-Mo.
Loebsack, David, D-Iowa
Lofgren, Zoe, D-Calif.
Marshall, Jim, D-Ga.
McIntyre, Mike, D-N.C.
McNerney, Jerry, D-Calif.
Mollohan, Alan, D-W.Va.
Moore, Dennis, D-Kan.
Ross, Mike, D-Ark.
Sestak, Joe, D-Pa.
Snyder, Vic, D-Ark.
Tanner, John, D-Tenn.
Taylor, Gene, D-Miss.

Senate

Bayh, Evan, D-Ind.
Bennett, Michael, D-Colo.
Cantwell, Maria, D-Wash.
Conrad, Kent, D-N.D.
Kerry, John, D-Mass.
McCaskill, Claire, D-Mo.
Menendez, Robert, D-N.J.
Warner, Mark, D-Va.

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