By Rep. Robert Andrews
Re: "Call on lawmakers to tackle jobs crisis" (editorial, Sept. 8).
I agree with your editorial from Thursday that calls on Congress to take immediate action to create jobs and strengthen our economy. Not since the Great Depression has America so desperately needed a jobs bill, and I think the plan President Barack Obama laid out before a joint session of Congress has the vision and support to start putting Americans back to work.
To get there, we in Congress must act -- and act now.
The president's proposal embraces ideas from both parties and invests $447 billion -- without adding to the deficit -- addressing our jobs problem head on through tax cuts, infrastructure spending and extending unemployment benefits.
The plan calls for $15 billion in infrastructure improvements nationwide. Investing in infrastructure creates an immediate demand for skilled construction workers and the roads, bridges and ports they
build will serve as the foundation for long-term economic growth.
Democrats and Republicans can agree that these improvements make our private sector more efficient and competitive.
We are seeing this idea work right here in South Jersey where the construction of a new port in Paulsboro has sustained more than 900 construction jobs, and it's on target to create more than 2,000
permanent jobs -- serving as a hub where windmills will be produced for offshore energy. For our economy to recover and thrive, we need more projects like this.
The president's plan also provides our small businesses with the tax cuts needed to expand and hire. It cuts the payroll tax in half for virtually all small businesses and completely eliminates payroll taxes
for small businesses that hire new workers or raise wages for their current employees. This means a business in South Jersey with 50 employees making an average salary will see an $80,000 tax cut. Also,
under this plan, businesses can continue to write off capital expenditures through 2012.
Again, these ideas share bipartisan support and we should enact them now.
The bill Obama proposed rightly addresses our nation's jobs problem head on. As a result of our unemployment crisis, incomes are shrinking leading to less spending and a shortage in consumer demand.
The effect of our demand shortage is that many businesses produce less goods, hire fewer workers, and eventually let people go. To improve demand we need to boost income. The newly added infrastructure
projects, tax cuts and extension on unemployment benefits will do exactly that -- they will put more money in the pockets of Americans to help stimulate and drive our economy.
But this plan only addresses our jobs problem in the short term. In order to achieve lasting growth, we need to rein in our debt and cut the deficit by at least $4 trillion over the next 10 years. Otherwise, the concerns that our rising fiscal problems will manifest into higher interest rates could ring true, making it too expensive for businesses to borrow money, expand and hire.
As we sit on the brink of a double-dip recession, we cannot afford to ignore the toll that our debt places on the ability to grow jobs. With that in mind, the president has pledged that his jobs plan will not to add a single dime to our nation's deficit. But that's not enough.
We need to enact the president's jobs plan and continue searching for real savings and cuts in Washington spending. The debt compromise we enacted in July gets us about half of the way there, but to build the foundation for America's future we need to look to responsible entitlement cuts -- there is savings to find in Medicare and Social Security without cutting benefits and harming those who so desperately rely on these programs -- and we must see that millionaires pay their fair share in taxes.
We need to put politics aside and make the tough choices necessary to put America back to work.