Commentary | Budget, Taxes, and Public Investment

EPI applauds Local Jobs for America Act

EPI Vice President Ross Eisenbrey issued the following statement on new legislation from U.S. Rep George Miller, Chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, that would create or save 1 million jobs.

The Local Jobs for America Act is exactly the kind of bold response we need to address the worst jobs crisis since the Great Depression. Chairman Miller estimates that the legislation will directly save or create 1 million jobs, though the total impact will likely be even higher because of indirect job creation that happens when people have more money to spend at local businesses. The legislation would act quickly, creating jobs in counties across the country with a minimum of red tape.

The legislation would keep more teachers in the classrooms; put more police officers on the beat; and put more emergency responders in firehouses. In addition, over the next two years, the bill would put another 750,000 Americans directly to work in the public and private sectors. These would be full-time jobs that pay wages that allow workers to make ends meet for their families. And these are jobs that will help meet essential needs in local communities, needs that have only grown as a result of the recession.

Misguided critics will undoubtedly say we can’t afford legislation like this, but they are wrong. The fact is that the costs of inaction to our future prosperity are far greater than the cost of this bill. The best first step toward reducing the deficit is to get people back to work, since high deficits will be with us as long as high unemployment is. David Walker, President of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, agrees that we must accept higher deficits in the short term in order to create jobs, while having a plan to address structural deficits in later years.

The Local Jobs for America Act is an aggressive effort to help put Americans back to work. The House and Senate should act to quickly pass it and get it to the President’s desk for his signature, along with the full-year extension of unemployment compensation and Cobra health benefits that the Senate is poised to approve. We were pleased to have been able to help Chairman Miller develop this legislation, which is similar to proposals included in our American Jobs Plan.