Policy Priorities

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September 13, 2011

President Delivers American Jobs Act as the Super Committee Meets

Congress returned to Washington last week and the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction “the super committee” got right to work. They held their first organizational meeting on September 8th, and this morning held their first public hearing entitled “The History and Drivers of our Nation’s Debt and Its Threats.” Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Elmendorf testified before the Committee and without offering specific policy solutions, suggested a more-balanced approach to reaching at least $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction—one composed of spending cuts and some new revenues of tax increases—is necessary. We expect President Obama to unveil his recommendations to the committee next week.

The Committee’s hearing coincided with the release of new data by the U.S. Census Bureau today revealing there are 46.2 million poor people in America, the largest number in the last 52 years. One in three of America’s poor were children—16.4 million—over 950,000 more than last year. The new numbers are grim: 22 percent, or over one in five children in America, lived in poverty in 2010. Children under five suffered most: one in four (5.5 million) infants, toddlers and preschoolers were poor in 2010. Children are the poorest age group in the country and getting poorer. Overwhelmingly, children have suffered more than any other age group during this recession and slow recovery. This data underscores the urgent need for Congress to change course to protect children and families from all budget cuts while investing in the health and education of our children and creating jobs for their parents.

All of this comes less than a week after President Obama delivered a major address to the nation, unveiling a $447 billion package called the “American Jobs Act” (AJA) to provide job and earnings opportunities for working Americans that would be fully paid for through a combination of revenue increases and spending cuts. The AJA includes many provisions that would have a direct impact on children and families, including:

  • $30 billion for public school and community college repairs and renovations;
  • $35 billion to preserve jobs of teachers and “first responders” such as police and firefighters.
  • A $15 billion neighborhood stabilization fund to help improve and repair low-income housing, including homes vacant due to foreclosure, that can then be sold to low-income homebuyers;
  • A $5 billion “Pathway Back to Work Fund,” including summer jobs for low-income adults and youth, subsidized jobs for members of low-income families, and a training/work placement program;
  • An on-the-job training program for unemployment recipients; and
  • An extension of unemployment benefits.

The President’s plan was sent to Congress on Monday and we’ll be following closely both the Committee’s debate and Congress’ work on creating jobs.

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