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Mr. HOYER. Madam Speaker, last year, President Obama and the 111th Congress took their oaths of office as America faced the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. Since then, our work has been defined by our response to the crisis--by the overriding job of getting Americans back to work.
Of course, the most important step toward putting Americans back to work has been the Recovery Act. It cut taxes for small businesses and 95% of families, started thousands of job-creating projects across America, provided emergency assistance to those hit hardest by the recession, saved states from laying off teachers, firefighters, and police officers, and more. And despite the efforts of some partisan critics to call it a failure--even as many of those same critics eagerly take credit for the funds it has provided for their districts--the Recovery Act is working.
The Recovery Act created some 2 million jobs. And since President Obama took office, job losses are down 90%. Our economy is growing again: in the most recent quarter, it grew by 5.9%, the fastest rate in six years, and the second straight quarter of growth under President Obama.
All of that is real progress for our economy--but it is not yet success. In recession after recession, employment has been the last sign of growth to turn around. Far too many Americans remain unemployed through no fault of their own, caught in the effects of an economic collapse they did not create. For working families, few challenges are more trying than unemployment, especially unemployment that grinds on for month after month. For Washington, few challenges demand our action more urgently.
That's why I urge my colleagues to pass this bill--a clear, focused effort at putting Americans back to work. It provides strong incentives for businesses to start hiring again. They include a tax exemption that will eliminate businesses' 2010 payroll taxes for every unemployed worker hired. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reports that such tax credits are one of the most effective ways of creating jobs: ``Providing tax credits for increases in payrolls would increase both output and employment.'' Businesses will also receive further tax credits for keeping new employees on the payroll for the next year. And small businesses will be able to take advantage of tax incentives to finance their expansion.
This bill also extends the highway programs that have created jobs for so many Americans, while bringing our vital infrastructure up to par with the rest of the world's. This bill will mean billions more invested in job-creating highway projects, which will save one million jobs. It will ensure that states direct some of their transportation investment to minority-owned contractors. And it will make it easier for states and local communities to finance their own job-creating projects by selling Build America Bonds.
Finally, I want to point out that this bill is paid for--that it fully complies with both the House PAYGO rule and statutory PAYGO, which are so important to restoring our budget to balance. In fact, this bill fixes a minor PAYGO violation in the Senate bill--and that extra effort shows how serious the House is about paying for what our country buys.
Unemployment demands action from Congress. And this bill is a part of that effort to create jobs, which began with the Recovery Act and will continue with a wide range of creative policies in the weeks ahead. This bill is not the first step, and it will not be the last; but it is an essential step toward getting America back to work.
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