Saturday, April 3, 2010

Will Grassroots Push for Jobs Bills?

As Congress Leaves Jobless in Lurch, Will Grassroots Push for Strong Jobs Bills?

In These Times (3/29/10)

By Art Levine

Even as Senators skipped town before a two-week break without extending unemployment insurance and COBRA health subsidies, hopes are rising among congressional liberals and unions that stronger job creation measures could win the backing of emboldened Democratic leaders and President Obama. (Some state-based officials also expect state agencies to tide over workers at risk of losing their benefits before the Senate takes action in mid-April, while advocates for the unemployed are far more alarmed.)

But will progressives be willing to mount the strong campaign needed to overcome conservative and centrist resistance to major jobs spending?That's the political challenge, especially after the first stimulus bill last year was effectively smeared as a waste of money although it saved or created nearly two million jobs. As George Packer notes in his devastating New Yorkerarticle, "Obama's Lost Year," 94 percent of Americans don't think it created jobs in their areas.

Yet despite relatively weak efforts so far by Congress to create anywhere near the 11 million jobs needed to return to pre-recession employment levels, a targeted $75 billion bill co-sponsored by Rep. George Miller (D-CA) to save or create nearly a million local jobs is gaining traction on the Hill. "As long as the jobs picture looks like this [nearly 10% officially unemployed], pressure continues to build," the AFL-CIO's legislative director, Bill Samuel, told In These Times.

George Miller's bill—developed with mayors, county officials and others—will provide $75 billion over two years to local communities to hold off planned cuts or to hire back workers for local services who have been laid-off because of tight budgets. Funding would go directly to eligible local communities and nonprofit community organizations to decide how best to use the funds, as outlined by Rep. Miller. Yet even that legislation isn't anywhere near the scope of the $400 billion or so labor unions and its allies have proposed spending to create millions of jobs.

Read rest of article

AddThis Social Bookmark Button


WPA Posters

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.