By Senator Mark Udall
When President Obama took his jobs plan to Congress and the American people earlier this month, I was listening closely for how it would help Coloradans. I didn't need to look further than Kirk Bergstrom.
Bergstrom made headlines that day because he had been invited to sit with the first lady during the president's Sept. 8 speech. A previously underemployed engineer from Centennial, he is now helping build the FasTracks light rail line to Denver International Airport, thanks to a federal grant putting to good use the human capital of the private engineering and construction consortium he works for.
The fact is that the president's American Jobs Act is about investing in the American people, and that has huge potential to help Colorado's economy. In addition to tax cuts for working families, it includes investments that will help put people to work, get consumers spending again, create reliable infrastructure, and help businesses find agile, well-trained workers.
The president's jobs plan reforms unemployment insurance to immediately help as many as 34,000 Coloradans put food on the table while they are looking for work. His plan could also lead to more than 6,000 jobs across the state by helping out-of-work construction workers find jobs rebuilding our outdated bridges, roadways and schools. And it invests in job training so that Latinos, women and low-income workers will get the necessary support to be qualified for these jobs.
You won't find a more committed member of Congress than me when it comes to deficit reduction. So while this tax relief and targeted spending would normally mean additional deficits, I was thrilled to hear the president commit to paying for every dollar spent as part of his jobs plan.
Targeted investments, reduced taxes and not a single dollar of deficit spending should be the ingredients for a bipartisan agreement - but it seems like some of my fellow members of Congress are too wrapped up in campaign politics to actually govern.
Our constituents are looking to Congress to work for Americans, not our political parties, and certainly not to win the next campaign. In his speech, the president explained accurately that we can't simply look to the next election to resolve our differences, because the American people "don't have the luxury of waiting 14 months."
These are good ideas, and we need to take them seriously. But this isn't my first time at the county fair; I've been working hard on common-sense solutions day and night.
For example, Colorado small-business owners have told me they need fewer regulations and more access to capital to expand and hire, and that's why I introduced a bipartisan bill that would responsibly loosen government restrictions on credit unions and help small businesses create more than 100,000 jobs at no cost to taxpayers.
This is just one way to give businesses the fuel to rev up our economic engine and create permanent job opportunities in Colorado. That's my goal, and why I'm working with President Obama and anyone else I can to get it done.
We're not going to sit on the sidelines and let our hard-earned role as a global leader slip away. I will do everything I can to work across the aisle to see that all good ideas - like the people Obama's plan will help - get a chance to work.