Labor Day Is A Time To Act

Roger Hickey

Today’s unemployment report, which shows zero net job creation and 14 million people officially unemployed, shows that the economy is dead in the water, and the focus on deficit reduction and austerity measures is systematically damaging employment and growth.

Cuts to Federal and local budgets are resulting in layoffs in every community in America. This report shows that since employment peaked in September 2008, local government has lost 550,000 jobs. As teachers, construction workers, police and firefighters lose their jobs, the buying power of the middle class is drastically reduced, so businesses, large and small, have fewer customers walking in the door with money to spend – and that means more layoffs and less hiring and fewer jobs everywhere.

President Obama and Congress must reverse this downward spiral by putting people to work—doing work that America needs right now.

The Campaign for America’s Future on Aug. 30 joined with Rebuild the Dream, MoveOn, NOW and more than 80 other groups to send a letter to President Obama. The groups told Obama, “A problem this serious needs a plan to match it in scope. Tax cuts and incentives for corporations have repeatedly failed to put Americans back to work. It is time to move beyond these half measures designed to appeal to a narrow ideological minority who have repeatedly shown their unwillingness to negotiate and their disinterest in real solutions. History—and proven economics—tells us that any plan to solve our job crisis needs to be big, bold, and create jobs directly.”

As we enter this Labor Day weekend, it is time for the President Obama and Congress to act. Everyone knows that Republicans in Congress are demanding policies that are crippling growth – and they are even resisting small measures, such as extending unemployment insurance and continuing the Social Security tax holiday. The president should push Republicans to vote for these small measures, which they used to support routinely but now oppose.

However, President Obama must go beyond what might be able to pass today and present a bold jobs program that is big enough to revive the economy and create jobs. If he does this, he can rally the country and revive hope that the more than 25 million unemployed or underemployed Americans will soon have new opportunities.

If the President does not acknowledge that we are in an unemployment crisis – and advance a serious plan to create growth and jobs – the country will lose hope and our economic crisis will only get worse.

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