ARRA was a swift and direct response to the economic crisis that threatened to cripple our nation. Over the past 18 months, these funds have spurred local economic activity, encouraged community reinvestment, and created or retained jobs for hundreds of thousands of American families. In my district, these needed funds prevented the layoffs of hundreds, if not thousands, of teachers, police officers, and firefighters. And for those individuals whose jobs were not able to be secured, extended unemployment insurance has provided temporary income and health coverage.
By infusing dollars into projects and people, ARRA funds saved local jobs and improved our regional infrastructure. Recent announcements in my congressional district — including the expansion of V&M Star Steel in Youngstown and the Kent Central Gateway multi-modal transportation project — show that targeted economic investments made by the federal stimulus program are not only getting people back to work, but are increasing consumer confidence that the economy will rebound and Americans are looking towards the future once more. Crucially, the best prescription for spurring demand, creating jobs and reducing federal debt over the long-term is government investment of stimulus dollars into local economies. As Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman has been pointing out relentlessly, ARRA’s value to our economy far outweighs its relatively small cost to government borrowing (the current interest rate as of this writing is approximately 1.7 percent). And thus, the quickest and surest way to balance the budget is putting people back to work and paying taxes.
Clearly there is still much work to be done; unemployment levels remain unacceptably high and our middle class continues to struggle. It will take time for our economy to fully recover, but we are moving forward in the right direction. Now is not the time to take our foot off the gas pedal. Now is not the time to stop deficit spending. In order to succeed, Democrats and Republicans must work together to continue making investments that improve our economy, encourage innovation and create sustainable, good-paying jobs for everyday Americans.