America faces a job crisis unlike any that we have seen since the Great Depression. Our country has the same number of private-sector jobs we had in 2001 -- but the number of people needing work has grown by 14 percent since then. Although projects like our new medical school and the port in Paulsboro hold promise for a recovery in South Jersey, we all know that the pain, stress and anxiety felt by South Jersey families is deep and profound.
What needs to be done? Both political parties should stop hurling accusations at each other and instead acknowledge facts and look for solutions flowing from those facts. The largest corporations in America have enough cash to hire 4 million people at $50,000 per year.
If our large banks were lending at the pace of the last 30 years, they would have injected 1.3 trillion dollars of private investment into our economy. Why haven't they done so?
Business and banking leaders are reluctant to hire, lend and invest for two reasons. First, they fear a lack of demand -- there aren't enough people buying enough cars, homes, software or antibiotics to justify expansion of business. Second, they fear that any profits they gain from increased investment will be quickly wiped out by increases in interest rates caused by our government's inability to reduce what we borrow. The debate in Washington about the debt ceiling is really about removing this second fear.
But removing fear of higher interest rates is only half the battle. We can't solve the fiscal crisis without solving the jobs crisis. We need to reignite demand, by developing industries like clean energy manufacturing and innovative medical technology that will employ Americans whose jobs have evaporated and reappeared overseas. We should stop sending a billion dollars a day to Middle Eastern oil monarchs and use that money to employ Americans in developing solar, wind, hydrogen and other domestic energy.
We must raise our debt ceiling in a manner that puts our fiscal house in order. A reckless failure to raise the ceiling means no social security checks, no pay for the troops and the destruction of our credit rating around the world. Moving toward a balanced federal budget and lower interest rates will not guarantee growth in jobs -- but failure to raise the debt ceiling and cut our deficit will guarantee a huge increase in unemployment and economic disaster for the United States.
We should cut the deficit by at least the $4 trillion sought by President Barack Obama. We need sensible and equitable savings from all areas of the budget -- entitlements, social programs and defense.
A more expeditious end to our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan is a good place to start. The wealthiest Americans should pay for a reasonable share of deficit reduction. The plan must fairly allocate the burden on all Americans so that all Americans can benefit.
Understand this: At present, we cannot pay our bills without huge loans from our rivals -- in this case China. That reality is a threat to our security and prosperity. Now is the time for our country to put aside politics, put our country on track to stop borrowing so much money, and put ourselves in position to create the jobs our people so desperately need.