Congressman John Garamendi

Representing the 3rd District of California
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Because Recovery Works, 3.5 Million Americans to Work Too

November 23, 2009
Notebook

In the months following the end of George W. Bush's disastrous term as President, my Congressional colleagues and President Barack Obama worked tirelessly to create an economic recovery plan that could begin the difficult process of creating jobs and rebuilding our economy. Had I been in Congress at the time, I would have gladly voted for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and as a recent New York Times article by Jackie Calmes and Michael Cooper reveals, "the accumulation of hard data and real-life experience has allowed more dispassionate analysts to reach a consensus that the stimulus package, messy as it is, is working."

They continue: "The legislation, a variety of economists say, is helping an economy in free fall a year ago to grow again and shed fewer jobs than it otherwise would. Mr. Obama's promise to "save or create" about 3.5 million jobs by the end of 2010 is roughly on track, though far more jobs are being saved than created, especially among states and cities using their money to avoid cutting teachers, police officers and other workers."

"It was worth doing -- it's made a difference," Nigel Gault, chief economist at IHS Global Insight, a financial forecasting and analysis group, explained in the article. "I don't think it's right to look at it by saying, 'Well, the economy is still doing extremely badly, therefore the stimulus didn't work.' I'm afraid the answer is, yes, we did badly but we would have done even worse without the stimulus."

So despite the consternation of some pundits, it turns out the President was right. Stimulus relief worked, and Democrats in Congress keep working. Since I joined Congress earlier this month, my House colleagues and I have backed a number of bills that will strengthen small businesses and create more jobs.

For example, H.R. 3738 by Congressman Glenn Nye (D-Virginia) would offer $250 million in financing to help early-stage small businesses in technology sectors, and with loan returns, it's self-financing. Another bill, H.R. 3014 by Congresswoman Kathleen Dahlkemper (D-Pennsylvania), would offer loan guarantees to small business health professionals to be used for the acquisition and installation of health information technology. Another good bill, H.R. 3737 by Congressman Brad Ellsworth (D-Indiana), would expand small business microloan eligibility and lending limits while lowering interest rates. When constituents ask me what I've done to help fix our economy at my three district town halls on December 5th, these are some of the bills I will highlight.

Like President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal Democrats before us, we've inherited a mess from a Republican administration, and we're picking up the pieces to rebuild our economy, brick by brick, job by job, solar panel by solar panel. But if you listened to some of the pundits, you'd think President Obama and Congressional Democrats were responsible for our present economic downturn.

Some people seem to forget that President Bush turned President Bill Clinton's $559 billion surplus into a $1.2 trillion deficit. Indeed, President Bush spent more taxpayer money than any of his six immediate predecessors, including President Lyndon B. Johnson. Under President Clinton, real discretionary spending increased by 0.1 percent. Under President Bush, real discretionary spending increased by 44 percent. To date, the Iraq War alone has cost the country more than $700 billion, and President Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest five percent of Americans cost more than $1.3 trillion.

The American people have made it clear that they prefer Democratic solutions to economic crisis. They want a proactive commitment to job creation, and they know that the federal government is able to provide some relief to local schools, job training programs, and senior centers devastated by state and local budget cuts.

Over the coming months, my colleagues and I will be back in Washington to try and bring some additional relief to American workers. There are plenty of good bills on the table that will improve the climate for small businesses, reinvest in jobs-creating infrastructure, provide incentives for research and the creation of green jobs, and offer targeted tax assistance for working and middle class Americans. We can't afford to wait.

Congressman John Garamendi (D-Walnut Creek) represents California’s 10th Congressional District. You can follow Congressman John Garamendi on his new Twitter and Facebook accounts.