by AFSCME President Gerald W. McEntee | June 23, 2010
In the worst economy since the Great Depression, far too many Americans are out of work. Despite the rising fears of more job losses, the Senate is refusing to do what is necessary to protect and create jobs. On Thursday, the Senate failed to break a Republican filibuster of the jobs bill, meaning that states will not get help with their budget shortfalls; and more than 1.5 million unemployed Americans will lose their unemployment insurance at the end of this week.
At the same time, U.S. companies are sitting on $1.8 trillion, the most cash they have ever hoarded. Stockpiling this vast amount of money means less investment in economic growth, fewer new hires and continued unemployment for millions of Americans. Corporations, the Republican party and so-called 'deficit hawks' are prolonging the recession with their irresponsible games. The reckless policies of corporate America put us into the economic ditch. The truth is that investment in America's economy and its people is the only way to get out.
The more jobs we create now, the less federal debt our children will have to carry later. Jobs not only put food on the table, they put revenue in the Treasury and money in the marketplace. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-huea-boGg
Last month, only 45,000 private sector jobs were created. State and local governments laid off 22,000 employees. More than five job seekers are available for every one available job. Nearly 7 million workers have been unemployed now for more than six months. Those are signals that we may see a double dip recession and more people out of work - that means "it will get worse - much worse."
Congress must act immediately to avoid the loss of hundreds of thousands more jobs in the coming months. Senators who block the emergency jobs bill are wrapping a hangman's noose around the state and local governments that cope with increasing demand for vital public services during dire economic times. And they're making it harder for our nation to get out of the economic crisis.
Failing to pass a jobs bill that contains this important funding would mean more lost jobs, while making it harder to rebuild the economy, cut down the deficit and get our nation back to prosperity.
Unlike the federal government, most state and local governments are required to balance their budgets. As a result, at a time of decreased tax revenues, state and local governments must cut back on the vital services Americans rely upon during troubling economic times. Job cuts come along with the budget cuts. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 180,000 local public-sector jobs have already been lost since August 2008.
Matters may soon become worse. Georgia State Sen. Don Balfour, the Republican who heads the National Conference of State Legislatures, wrote to Senate leaders earlier this month calling for an extension of aid to states. "States continue to address sizeable budget gaps that have compelled state lawmakers to make dramatic programmatic and revenue changes in order to ensure balanced general fund budgets," he wrote.
The urgent need for action was underscored by a study released recently by the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers. The Fiscal Survey of States revealed that while some signs of improvement can be seen in the overall economy, "state fiscal conditions continue to deteriorate." The report makes a compelling case that state and local governments need help to protect a million jobs in this difficult economy. It also points out that recovery could be a long way off for our state and local governments.
This country's fragile economy cannot grow if elected officials in Washington refuse to take the action needed to put our country back to work. We intend to make sure that the American people understand what this reckless failure to act will cost in terms of our recovery. If we are to avoid massive additional job cuts and more debt, the jobs bill must include critical funding for states and local governments.
More jobs equal less debt. Congress must act now to protect workers and promote American jobs.