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Jackson on SOTU: Ending Unemployment is Different than Creating Jobs


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Today, Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. issued the following statement:

"Tonight's speech should be measured by whether or not the President focuses on ending unemployment, not on what he says about 'job creation.' I believe that creating jobs is fundamentally different than ending unemployment. The Congress has very limited power to create jobs using the familiar means of tax credits and other incentives to the private sector. Those levers may create a few jobs at the margins - it may be one of many reasons that a company decides to build a factory somewhere - but they will not spur widespread job creation. We only have to look at the economy over the last few years to know that. Congress cannot create jobs unless it's planning to hire the unemployed.

"Congress can, however, end unemployment. As President Roosevelt suggested, by amending the constitution to include economic rights and creating a jobs investment program modeled on the Works Progress Administration, we can bring the unemployment rate down to virtually zero. That is a fundamentally different proposition than anything the President will offer tonight, that the Republican majority will bring to the floor of the House, or that the Democratic minority is contemplating.

"We must recognize the inadequacy of Congress and the Presidency to end unemployment through the conventional means. Franklin Delano Roosevelt recognized this, as did Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The economy is presently creating less than 100,000 jobs a month. That does not even come close to addressing our fundamental unemployment that affects the 2 million '99ers' that have already seen their benefits expire, or the 14.5 million Americans who are unemployed and looking for a job. The economy would have to grow by 334,000 jobs per month in order to employ the unemployed who are expected to lose their benefits in 2011. Those statistics mean that the marginal 'job creating' measures that the Congress and the President typically contemplate are simply not enough.

"In 1968 unemployment for all Americans was under 4%, but for African-Americans unemployment was near 7%. In 2011, unemployment nationally is 9.4%, but for African-Americans it is conservatively 15.6% and as high as 25% in some communities. In essence, the conditions have gotten worse for the unemployed, underemployed and economically insecure in our nation since Martin Luther King Jr. called for a massive non-violent civil disobedience campaign to shut down Federal government just a few days before his assassination.

"Republicans have made a decision to limit the role of government in solving this historic problem and instead have opted to support free market solutions that have failed to close the gap between the employed and the unemployed, the underemployed and the economically insecure. Democrats have called for 'job creation' measures that will not fundamentally address the chronic unemployment problem that our country faces.

"So let me be clear. Democrats and Republicans have spent billions of dollars offering incentives and tax breaks to the private sector through various schemes to 'grow the economy,' but as the Dow Jones Industrial Average approaches 12,000 the economy is growing and unemployment persists."

"We need a new paradigm - one that is focused on ending unemployment once and for all."

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