Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY-16) said that the February jobs report, the 36th consecutive month of job creation, shows that the economy is beginning to gain momentum. Unfortunately, it may run into a roadblock from the deep budget cuts mandated by the "sequester" which were created in the 2011 debt ceiling deal. Rep. Engel voted against that deal, calling it a "stupid idea" and has repeatedly called for a bipartisan, precise solution to budget issues, rather than this aggressive and haphazard method of budgeting.
The U.S. Department of Labor's report showed a gain of 236,000 jobs and an unemployment rate of 7.7 percent. This is the lowest rate since December 2008. Private payrolls increased by 246,000, but losses in the public sector reduced the overall number. Total private sector growth over the last three years now totals 6.4 million jobs. In 2009, when President Obama took office, the United States was losing 700,000 jobs per month, with our economy teetering on the brink of collapse.
"Now that we are witnessing job growth at increased levels every month, Congress has gone and thrown another manufactured crisis in to the mix. The debt ceiling deal was ridiculous in the first place -- a fiscal crisis where one didn't exist -- but its wrong-headed policies continue. It's the horrible gift that keeps on giving. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, and other experts, the sequester could cost us as many jobs as were being lost monthly at the end of the Bush Administration thanks to the same failed policies championed by many Republicans who welcome the sequester. The Recovery Act propped up the economy through the recession, and now it is being held back by fiscal contraction. The recovery has been consistent, if not spectacular, for almost three years now. Unfortunately, now that it has begun to pick up speed, some have chosen to wave the caution flag. This has to stop.
"The housing rebound in recent months has helped put people back to work. Retail employment has continued to rise. Temporary employment has also risen. The index of weekly payrolls for all private workers is up. All of these are leading indicators of progress to be made. As long as Congress continues to play games with fiscal legislation, we risk getting in the way. Democrats have urged a balanced approach to the deficit -- careful and precise cuts coupled with increased revenues. Republicans refuse to come to the table unless it is on their terms, and if they control what's on the table, the size of the table, what shape the table is, what room it is located and the color. This is not helpful, and the only ones who will get hurt will be the American people.
"I call on my colleagues to prove that the animosity of the 112th Congress will not be repeated in the 113th Congress."