Friday, September 9, 2011

Local pols react to Obama's job speech (Update)

President Obama, with
Vice President Joe Biden (left)
and Speaker of the House
John Boehner (right) behind him.
Here are statements from Congressman Eliot Engel and City Comptroller John Liu regarding President Obama's speech last night. I've shortened them up quite a bit. Jump below for the statements, as well as videos of Obama's speech.

Update: I found Rep. Jose Serrano's statement, which is posted below the jump.

Engel, who has been clamoring for a jobs bill from the Republican party for months now, had this to say:

“The Republican House promised a ‘laser-like’ focus on jobs during the 2010 campaign, and they have failed to produce a single jobs bill. After the Republican Senate filibustered every jobs bill in 2010, this doesn’t come as a surprise. However, this is too important of an issue to be bogged down in the partisan politics of the past. Out-of-work Americans know no political affiliation.

“The Recovery Act of 2009 halted the downward spiral of our economy and helped keep things from turning far worse. Of the $787 billion included in the Recovery Act, $299 billion went to tax cuts, almost half of the entire amount spent. The tax benefits come in various forms, including the Making Work Pay tax credit, COBRA Continuation Coverage Assistance, and tax incentives for businesses, in addition to the $70 billion which went to the Alternative Minimum Tax fix. I find it hard to believe my Republican colleagues continue to say the Recovery Act was a failure, despite tax cuts which help the middle class. 

“Meanwhile, only 15 percent went to infrastructure and science, which to me was too little. I applaud the President for his commitment to addressing this disparity, and choosing to invest in our crumbling roads and bridges.  Investment in our infrastructure also means an investment in our workforce. 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, and India spends five percent. The United States invests only 1.9 percent. This is not the way to be competitive in the 21st century. 

“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 1-2 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. 

“Tonight needs to be a defining moment for the 112th Congress.  We can put partisan politics aside and work to put America back to work, or we can remain on the sidelines and continue to throw rhetorical bombs at each other.  This will only prolong the suffering of our fellow unemployed Americans.  I am committed to reaching out to my colleagues to work together and help end the misery.”

Comptroller Liu's statement was only one paragraph, but he then listed how Obama's jobs act will effect New York City.

“President Obama has put forward a plan that, if enacted, will deliver significant benefits to New York City’s economy,” Liu said.  “Although the President has indicated that the jobs plan will be paid for, specifics on funding have yet to be identified.  The President’s plan is in the best interests of New Yorkers, but we must remain vigilant and ensure that any potential spending cuts do not disproportionately impact our City.”

Liu's preliminary analysis of the impact the American Jobs Act would have on New York City is as follows:

§  The payroll tax cut would provide a total benefit of $4.8 billion to New York City workers and create or preserve 25,000 jobs during 2012. Benefits will vary depending on individual salaries. For example, a worker earning $25,000 would receive an annual tax cut of $775, while a worker earning $100,000 would receive an annual tax cut of $3,100.

§  The extension of the emergency unemployment benefits would help a portion of the 190,000 City residents who have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks.

§  Every $1 billion in increased infrastructure spending in the City would create or preserve 7,500 jobs. While the unemployment rate in 2010 for New York City was 8.5 percent, the unemployment rate in the construction industry was 14.6 percent.

§  Federal educational aid could help restore 3,700 teaching positions slated for reduction in FY 2012 and FY 2013.

Here is Serrano's statement:

“We listened all year to a debate on reducing the deficit while our economy stalled in job growth. Now we have turned the focus to where it should have been in the first place: creating jobs.  The deficit debate was a side-show, manufactured by Republicans eager to shrink the size of social programs they oppose. They know as well as we do that the quickest way to shrink the deficit is to revive employment.

“President Obama laid out a series of reasonable steps that will help increase employment. I hope the House Republicans will drop their ideological resistance and bring the jobs package to a quick vote. With so many Americans out of work, it is time to end the partisanship and rigid ideology.

“The employment situation in this nation is at a crisis point. We must act swiftly and without the usual posturing and put Americans back to work again. President Obama did the right thing by proposing solutions. I urge Republicans to get behind our President in this time of economic crisis and move our nation forward again.”

And as I said, here are two videos of Obama's speech:

And in case you only have 35 seconds...

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