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Jumpstart Our Business Strength (Jobs) Act

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. KENNEDY. Madam President, we call this bill the "Jumpstart Our Business Strength Act"-the JOBS Act, because that is exactly what we are debating this week-the critical issue facing so many millions of Americans, the lack of jobs.

To hear President Bush, you would never know there was a problem with jobs. According to the Bush administration, everything is sunshine and roses.

Over and over again, the President says things that show he is out of touch with the lives of ordinary Americans and can't understand the economic hardships they are facing. Happy talk about economic recovery doesn't jibe with the daily lives of the people on Main Street.

In his State of the Union Address in January, the President said ". . . this economy is strong, and growing stronger . .
. Productivity is high, and jobs are on the rise."

A week later he said: "The economy is growing, people are finding work. There's an excitement in our economy . . . You can tell I'm upbeat, and I've got reason to be. Not only the numbers say things are looking pretty good, the American people are telling me they feel pretty good."

Then came his annual economic report and its ringing endorsement of sending jobs overseas.

At the National Governors Association meeting last Monday, he said he thinks the 5.6 percent unemployment rate is "a good national number."

Yesterday, Vice President CHENEY said, "The economy's in very good shape, and going forward there's every reason to be optimistic that we will have the kind of growth that we need to create jobs out there."

In fact, he went on to say that if "Democratic policies had been pursued over the last two or three years. . . . we would not have had the kind of job growth that we've had."

Job growth? Someone should tell the Vice President that we have lost over two million jobs in the Bush economy.

The reality of the Bush economic record is very different from the rhetoric.

Just a few weeks ago, the President said in his economic report that the economy will create 2.6 million new jobs this year. The reality is that no one in the White House or the Cabinet will endorse the 2.6 million number.

President Bush said his first tax cuts in 2001 would create 800,000 additional jobs by the end of 2002. The reality is, we lost 1.9 million jobs instead.

His 2002 economic report predicted 3 million jobs would be created in 2003. Instead, more than 300,000 were lost.

He said the tax breaks enacted last year would create 510,000 additional jobs by the end of the year, but we lost 53,000 jobs last year.

Even the few jobs being created are not as good as the jobs we have lost. The new jobs pay on average $8,000 less than jobs lost in the Bush economy. In 48 of the 50 States, jobs being created pay 21 percent less than had been paid by industries losing jobs.

Employees have smaller paychecks, and are even less able to keep up with the rising costs of education, let alone pay the bill for food, rent and health care.

A big part of the job problem is the worsening crisis in manufacturing. We have lost nearly 3 million manufacturing jobs since the Bush administration took office. It is a nationwide problem, affecting almost every State in the Union. Forty-nine of the 50 States have lost manufacturing jobs under this President.

That is only part of the story. Fourteen million other jobs are newly at risk of being sent overseas as well. Every day, we hear more stories about how white collar jobs and service sector jobs in health care, financial services, and information technology are going to other countries.

What is the President's response? More empty rhetoric and broken promises. Last year on Labor Day, the President met with workers and promised to appoint a manufacturing czar to deal with the loss of manufacturing jobs. How typical of the President to make a promise like that on Labor Day and then forget all about it.

Six months later, there is still no manufacturing czar. Administration officials say they're working on it, but the economy is still hemorrhaging manufacturing jobs.

American workers deserve better than this. They deserve better than to have their jobs exported with the President, as cheerleader in chief, waving good bye.

We need to do more, to encourage good-paying manufacturing jobs to stay here, and discourage corporations from sending jobs and new investment overseas.

This bill contains provisions to encourage manufacturing in the United States, and I commend Senator GRASSLEY and Senator BAUCUS for their bi-partisan work on this bill. But we can do more and we must do more.

We need to provide incentives now for companies to keep and create manufacturing jobs in the United States. A key weakness in this bill is that the tax benefits for domestic manufacturing are phased in too slowly. These companies and their workers need help now.

We need to stop rewarding multinational corporations that send jobs to other countries.

This bill not only fails to do that, it creates $35 billion in new or larger tax breaks for companies doing business abroad. Why on earth do we want to make exporting of American jobs more attractive to corporations? These international provisions should be removed from the bill, and the tax dollars should be used to make the tax benefits for domestic manufacturing more robust.

In many respects, the tax code already gives a greater subsidy to profits from foreign operations over domestic plants. We ought to change that too, instead of kowtowing to the clout of multinational corporations. Our corporate tax laws should be rewritten to increase the cost of exporting jobs and decrease the cost of maintaining jobs in America.

And what about the urgent needs of Americans who have already lost their jobs and their long-term unemployment benefits too?

Solid majorities in the Senate and the House have already sent a message loud and clear to the White House and the Republican leadership in Congress that we want to reinstate those benefits, which expired on December 31st. Ninety thousand workers a week have lost their benefits and still can't get a job. They're moving in with friends or family, giving up health care, and struggling to pay every bill. Yet our Republican colleagues say, in their best imitation of Marie Antoinette, "let them eat cake."

They tell the unemployed to look harder for work. They treat them as slackers, and say they won't subsidize their idleness any longer. That attitude is wrong. The unemployment insurance extension we enacted when the economy began to decline has expired, and I urge my colleagues to fix it, before these hard-working employees who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own suffer any longer.

I also urge my colleagues to join me in strengthening this legislation. We must improve incentives in the manufacturing industries and give working Americans a chance for the jobs and the better future they deserve.

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