By Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) - 07/13/11 10:01 PM EDT
The jobs report released last week disappointed a lot of Americans, and I’m one of them. Our private sector added 57,000 jobs in June, but with public-sector layoffs across the country, the total number of jobs created added up to just 18,000. To be sure, that’s far better than the situation our country faced as President Obama took office, when we were losing nearly three-quarters of a million jobs per month. Since then, our economy has been steadily adding jobs, and our private sector has grown for 16 straight months. But that’s hardly any consolation to the millions of Americans who are still out of work, still suffering the effects of 2008’s financial crisis. What can we do to make their future brighter?
Americans have chosen divided government and shared responsibility in Washington. There are two important steps we can take to build a foundation for long-term job growth, but they both require the two parties to work together for the good of the country: restoring American industry and putting our country on sounder fiscal footing.
Bills on this agenda can create jobs today and lay a solid foundation for tomorrow’s prosperity. One bill would create a National Infrastructure Development Bank to leverage private investment in much-needed, cutting-edge projects, from broadband networks to energy delivery systems to modern ports. Public-private partnerships to drive these projects can put Americans to work and help us keep pace with competitors like Germany and China, who are investing heavily in their own future growth.
Democrats have also put forward legislation to build job-training partnerships between advanced manufacturers and colleges, and to spark innovation by expanding and making permanent the research and development tax credit. Also on the agenda is a simpler, more efficient corporate tax code that can promote growth by helping businesses make decisions based on their own economic judgment, not on gaming the tax code. And Democrats are gaining signatures for a discharge petition that would bring to the House floor legislation to hold countries accountable for currency manipulation, which costs American jobs.
President Obama signed six Make It in America bills into law last year, many of which passed with bipartisan support. These additional ideas deserve bipartisan support this year as well.
But building for the future isn’t enough. Another way to strengthen our economy is to create confidence that America can both pay its bills and get its fiscal house in order. It is absolutely essential that we pay the bills we’ve already incurred. Failing to do so would be — in the judgment of leading economists, financial leaders, the chairman of the Federal Reserve and the secretary of the Treasury — a job-destroying disaster for the American and world economies. But this is also an excellent opportunity to put our country on a course to better fiscal health, which will create a better environment for job creation in the long run.
Just like strengthening American industry, restoring America’s fiscal health will take the cooperation of both parties. There is no workable solution — fiscally or politically — that is not a balanced solution. Neither side can get its whole way. Democrats will have to compromise on spending, and Republicans will have to compromise on asking the wealthiest Americans to contribute more toward paying our bills and reducing our debt. The difference so far is that President Obama and Democrats have already shown that willingness to compromise, even though it’s been painful. But Republicans still have not budged; it looks like most Republicans are ready to ask seniors to sacrifice, but not the wealthiest Americans, and are willing to risk a catastrophic default if they don’t get their way.
On both our manufacturing future and our fiscal future, Americans are waiting to see whether the common good can win out over party ideology. If it does, we all have reason to be hopeful for the future. But if unmoving, uncompromising ideology wins out, our trouble runs far deeper than one month’s jobs report.
Hoyer is the Democratic whip in the House.