When President Obama took office in January 2009, the country had lost 3.6 million jobs since the Bush Recession began in December 2007. And job losses were accelerating, with 1.8 million total losses in the three months before President Obama’s inauguration, and an additional 1.2 million jobs lost in February and March 2009, before any of the Democrats’ policies really began to take effect. After March 2009, job losses began decreasing, and for the past nine months there has been net positive job growth in the private sector. In short, the stimulus package worked to stem the tide of job losses and to stop the economy from going into a complete meltdown.
But while private sector job losses have been halted, the American public is still justifiably angry about the employment situation, as unemployment remains too high, private sector job growth is not keeping up with population growth, and overall employment is slipping due to budgetary cutbacks in local governments.
With Congressional elections less than a month away, the question is where this anger should be directed. And the answer to that question is clear – toward the Republicans, who have launched a war on jobs that involved blatantly trying to obstruct every effort by President Obama and Congressional Democrats to achieve a full economic recovery. In particular:
- Republicans Eliminated 130,000 Jobs by filibustering the extension of the TANF Emergency Fund, which provided funding for small businesses, non-profits, and local governments to employ people.
- Republicans Obstructed Small Business Aid by filibustering legislation that provides a $30 billion small business lending fund and $12 billion in small business tax breaks. While the Democrats first proposed this legislation in February 2010, they were not able to overcome the Republican filibuster until September 2010.
- Republicans Filibustered the Most Effective Stimulus Available delaying the extension of unemployment benefits on multiple occasions. The Congressional Budget Office and other experts have identified unemployment benefits as the most effective stimulus policy because it puts money directly in the hands of people who will spend it almost immediately on necessary staples like food, gasoline, and rent.
- Republicans Triggered Layoffs of State and Local Public Servants by removing aid to state and local governments from the stimulus bill and filibustering an aid package proposed last summer to avoid layoffs of teachers, firefighters, and police officers. While the private sector has seen job growth throughout 2010, overall job numbers are down because cash-strapped local governments are laying off tens of thousands of people.
- Republicans Obstructed the Appointment of Qualified Nominees for 20 positions in the U.S. Treasury and three Federal Reserve Board of Governors positions, delaying the ability of the Obama Administration to operate at full capacity as it seeks to fix our economy.
In short, Republicans have done everything they can to try to prevent President Obama and the Democrats from implementing policies that will allow for a full economic recovery.
Fortunately, the American people have a prime opportunity to end the Republican war on jobs this November by rebuking the Republicans’ obstructionist policies and returning Democratic majorities to Congress. If you, like me, are angry about the continued high unemployment rates and sluggish economic growth, working these next three-and-a-half weeks to return the Democratic majorities is the most effective way to channel that anger. So, let’s get out there and volunteer, write letters to our local newspaper editors, and talk to our family, friends, and neighbors about how to end the Republican war on jobs.