Where Are The Jobs? By Congresswoman Maxine Waters
Americans want to know where the jobs are. The unemployment rate currently stands at 9.2 percent with 14.1 million people out of work. Since March the number of unemployed persons has increased by 545,000. African-Americans are particularly impacted by these high unemployment rates. Twenty-one percent of the unemployed are African American and the unemployment rate in the African-American community stands at a high 16.2 percent. With unemployment continuing to climb and to depress our communities, Americans are looking to Congress to come up with a viable strategy to create jobs and to spur development in the economy. Unfortunately, the Republican majority has no interest in focusing on this issue, which is consistently the top priority of most Americans. To date, the Republican leadership has yet to bring a jobs bill up for a vote in the House. Instead, Republicans have passed bill after bill that would destroy American jobs and undermine investment in our economy. These draconian cuts to federal programs have diminished the aid available to state and local governments, causing mass layoffs of the government workers who run our community development, housing, health care and other programs. Though the private sector added 18,000 jobs in June, layoffs of government workers totaled 39,000. These cuts have a disproportionate impact on African-Americans, since about 21 percent of African-Americans work for the government, compared to 16-17 percent of the overall population. For every step that we take forward, the Republican majority in the House takes us two steps back. The latest Republican ploy to kill jobs is their continued obstruction to raising the debt ceiling. Established in 1939, the “debt ceiling” is a cap on how much can be borrowed by the U.S. government. It has been raised 89 times by Congress, including under President George W. Bush. The debt ceiling isn’t an abstract concept. It exists because America has made commitments to pay our creditors, to pay veterans’ benefits, to provide Social
Security checks and Medicare benefits, and to pay the salaries of federal workers, among many other things. If we do not pay our bills on time, our national “credit score” will quickly and deeply drop, ruining our ability to borrow in the future. Paying our bills on time as a nation keeps interest rates low for all American borrowers, because interest rates on bonds sold by the Treasury to fund our government directly link to the interest rates paid by consumers on student loans, car loans, mortgages, etc. Democrats agree that long-term changes in the structure of our programs are needed to lower our debt, and prevent the need for future borrowing. But these changes can’t be accomplished overnight. If the debt ceiling is not raised, our economy, our government, and our communities will face disastrous consequences. For example, the elderly and the disabled would not receive Social Security checks; our veterans would not be able to obtain their much needed benefits; doctors would not receive reimbursements from Medicare; government offices would shut down, putting millions of Federal employees out of work; interest rates on consumer loans would skyrocket, forcing Americans to pay more for their mortgages, student loans, credit cards, and other forms of credit; and for the first time in the history of our nation, the United States would default on its obligations to our creditors. All of this would have severe negative consequences for our economy, resulting in more Americans losing their jobs and stalling the fragile economy recovery that is struggling to take hold in our nation. The Congressional Black Caucus is committed to not only raising the debt limit, but also to creating jobs. In fact, job creation is the single best way to reduce our deficit, since persistent unemployment leads to fewer people earning money and therefore fewer people paying taxes on their wages. Chairman Cleaver sounded the call for Members to tackle job creation and I, and other Members, have taken up the challenge. I urge my Republican colleagues to stop the obstruction and to get down to the
business of creating jobs and ending unemployment.
DISCLAIMER: This statement is the written opinion of Congresswoman Maxine Waters and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Members of the Congressional Black Caucus. The views expressed should only be attributed to Congresswoman Waters.