For a listing of specific bills that will comprise the "Make It in America agenda," see page two of this article.
Democrats' Way Forward for the Economy
Remarks by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer
July 23, 2010
America has faced its share of trying times — times when not just our economy, but our nation, seemed in decline. But each time, with ingenuity, hard work and our distinctly American optimism, we have built our way out, and we’ve emerged stronger.
Three Questions for Voters
No one doubts that this is one of those testing times. But the question that will be in front of us in this fall’s vote isn’t where we are — it’s where we go from here.
It’s a choice between two dramatically different directions. And our decision really comes down to three questions:
- How far have we come?
- What remains to be done?
- And which party will keep moving us forward?
First, how far have we come? Let’s consider an alternate history:
- America is facing the worst economic crisis in a generation.
- Americans are losing almost 800,000 jobs per month. Over a quarter of personal wealth in America has been wiped out.
- Banks are afraid to lend, businesses are forced into layoffs, and innovative start-ups can’t start up. Foreclosures are devastating neighborhoods.
- The massive deficit left behind by President Bush makes responding to the crisis even more difficult.
As a result, the nonpartisan CBO tells us that we’d be looking at 2 million additional Americans out of work. The economy would likely have continued to shrink, instead of growing for three straight quarters. Retirement savings would have remained devastated. And the global recession would have become catastrophic.
It was that bleak picture that led former Reagan economic adviser Martin Feldstein to endorse substantial deficit spending to pump life into the economy, saying, "I don’t think we have a choice."
I know thinking about how much worse off we could have been is not worth much comfort to anyone who’s still struggling to find work. But any honest look at our economy has to start with an honest conversation about the disaster we have to this point averted, as a result of the actions we have taken.
A mere year and a half ago, economists across the spectrum were talking in all seriousness about the risk of a second Great Depression. Instead, we’ve:
- stabilized the financial system,
- injected demand into the economy,
- and created jobs.
That progress started with vital investments, not just in our immediate recovery, but in the foundations of prosperity for years to come:
- We are rebuilding the roads, railways, and bridges that are our economy’s backbone.
- We are using Build America Bonds to help local governments invest in the infrastructure projects they need most.
- We are investing in our children’s future: we’ve kept teachers in the classroom and have helped more young Americans reach their goal of a college education.
- We’re helping doctors and hospitals computerize medical records, so patients can be treated more effectively.
- We’ve funded clean energy technology that will help us save energy and become less dependent on foreign oil — technology like a ‘smart grid’ that will respond to changing energy needs in real time.
And for 98% of Americans, taxes are now lower than they were in any single year under President Bush.
Nonpartisan Analysis: Obama Policies Responsible for 3 Million Jobs
Despite Republicans’ efforts to demonize those policies, they can’t refute the nonpartisan analysis that shows that they have been responsible for as many as 3 million jobs. They can’t ignore those investments’ benefits in their own communities—not when the House Minority Whip himself has hosted three job fairs featuring employers that have benefitted from just such federal funds.
In fact, while all House Republicans voted against these investments, more than half of the Republicans in Congress have taken credit for them in their districts.
Small Business Tax Cuts of $8.5 billion
President Obama has also signed into law the HIRE Act, which cuts employers’ taxes for every unemployed worker hired. The Treasury Department reported that, between February and May, the HIRE Act gave small businesses $8.5 billion in tax cuts for millions of new workers.
Democrats have also passed legislation helping to support $28 billion in new lending for small businesses, protecting middle-class Americans from abusive credit card lending practices, and making the biggest investment in student lending in history, without adding to the deficit.
Health insurance reform will have an important jobs impact, as well. A Harvard/USC study found that health reform will create up to 4 million jobs over the next decade, because it makes coverage more affordable for businesses and the self-employed, while putting American companies on a more even playing field with their foreign competitors.
And it will free the next generation of American entrepreneurs to innovate and make business decisions on the grounds of opportunity, not on the grounds of keeping their coverage.
Finally, President Obama has just signed important legislation to put the referees back on the field and hold Wall Street accountable for the reckless conduct that helped crash our economy.