Friday, September 2, 2011

Engel renews the call for new jobs, increased attention to infrastructure

Renewing his calls from earlier this summer, Congressman Eliot Engel has urged Washington to put aside political differences and find a way to give the American people jobs. His announcement comes in light of yesterday's announcement by no change in jobs added.

He also urged the Republican House Majority, Senate Leadership, and President Barack Obama to come together and produce a long-term surface transportation funding extension to improve the nation’s infrastructure.

For those interested, here is a piece by Michael Kink, a political activist in Albany, about what New York State should do about the job situation.

Jump below for Engel's full statement, which focuses on how Hurricane Irene exposed the weaknesses in the country's roads and bridges.

“I just completed touring parts of my district which sustained substantial damage caused by Hurricane Irene to our roads and bridges. Bridges were knocked down and entire chunks of pavement were washed away, leaving municipalities with hazardous conditions, massive cleanup and logistical nightmares. This just proves that we need to pay much more attention to our national infrastructure than we have in recent decades. Our communities are vulnerable to these types of disasters, as well as to the normal deterioration of structures, which led to the bridge collapse in Minnesota four years ago.

“Investment in our infrastructure also means an investment in our workforce. With massive amounts of Americans currently unemployed, this is needed now, more than ever. President Obama has called for an immediate extension of the surface transportation bill, and a long-term robust version. I applaud him for doing so, and I implore Congressional leadership to work with him to make it happen. The best way for us to create immediate jobs is to rebuild our infrastructure. It is a win-win for America.  For example, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities says that a $50 billion investment in school renovation could create half a million jobs in 1 to 2 years. If we fail to reauthorize the transportation bill, we would lose 4,000 jobs instantly, $1 billion in revenue in the first 10 days, and approximately one million jobs in the first year. Both the AFL-CIO and the Chamber of Commerce agree with President Obama’s plan. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 42 jobs are created for every $1 million in transportation construction funding.

“Worldwide, the United States ranks 23rd in quality of its overall infrastructure.  Not only is there a dangerous safety issue at hand, which will only get worse, but there are also hundreds of thousands of jobs at stakeWe cannot be pennywise and pound-foolish. China currently spends nine percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per year on infrastructure investments. India spends five percent of its GDP on infrastructure. The United States invests only 1.9 percent. This is not the way to be competitive in the 21st century. Together we must develop a transportation bill to make our nation’s infrastructure safer, stronger and more secure, reduce congestion, and enhance economic development.”

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