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Economic Recovery Relies on Jobs

Obama plan calls for investment in job creation, nation's infrastructure.

By Becky Levin

Economic recovery

Obama plan calls for investment in job creation, nation's infrastructure

The picture is grim. Nearly one in six Americans lives in poverty. More than 14 million American construction workers, engineers, maintenance staff, electrical workers, school employees and others are out of work. The nation’s roads, bridges and schools are crumbling. And our nation’s economy is stagnant.

There is a way forward: job creation.

President Obama’s American Jobs Act would put people back to work, put more money in the pockets of working Americans, provide more customers for businesses and reduce the deficit. The plan focuses spending on areas of the economy that will produce jobs immediately and level the playing field.

It provides $30 billion to prevent teacher layoffs and create jobs in early childhood, elementary and secondary education. It contains $5 billion for rehiring, hiring or retaining law enforcement officers and firefighters. It invests $25 billion to modernize at least 35,000 public schools. And it holds even more funding for critical renovations.

Let’s take a closer look at how the Jobs Act gets America working:

It will put hundreds of thousands of workers back on the job as they modernize and repair 35,000 crumbling schools, roads, railroads, airports and waterways.

It will reinstate 280,000 teachers laid off by state budget cuts, as well as first responders and veterans coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan.

It will expand job opportunities with innovative new job training programs to connect low-income workers to jobs quickly, and provides incentive for employers to hire disadvantaged workers.

It will help out-of-work Americans by extending unemployment benefits. It funds training programs that build real skills and helps the unemployed find jobs.

It will end tax breaks for those who can most afford it — wealthy Americans and corporations — to invest in job creation and economic growth.

Investing in the working middle class is the surest path to an economic recovery that works for everyone, not just CEOs and huge corporations.

Before the plan can create its first job, Congress has to do its job. “We need jobs and we need them now,” says AFSCME Pres. Gerald W. McEntee. “The time for petty political posturing is over, and Congress needs to pass this jobs bill and pass it right away. For far too long we have witnessed the working middle class suffer and corporate CEOs profit. Closing the Texas-sized tax loopholes to make Wall Street fat-cats pay their fair share is better than laying off nurses, teachers and firefighters.”

The President’s plan recognizes that we have a jobs problem and a revenue problem (not surprising with an unfair tax system that lets major corporations dodge taxes and that finds millionaires paying lower percentages on their incomes than some of their employees.)

Congress has spent the past year arguing over the budget and the debt ceiling while doing nothing to create jobs. In August, the economy created exactly zero jobs. Without major action, the economy could be headed toward a “double-dip” recession.

AFSCME is waging a fight for the American Jobs Act’s passage, which includes television ads and mobilization events around the country. We will fight alongside our friends in Congress and with President Obama to ensure that Congress focuses on creating jobs and preserving vital programs, such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, while raising revenues that require the wealthy and corporations to pay their fair share. We urge you to participate in this fight at afscme.org/jobs.

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