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Deepak Bhargava Headshot

Jobs: The Best Politics is Doing the Right Thing

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Let's cut to the chase. The American people are not happy with Washington and for good reason. After the roller coaster fight to win affordable health care exposed the worst kind of obstructionist politics, more of the same has reared its ugly head as Congress looks for ways to stem the jobs crisis. We were only able to win health care reform and get financial reform back on track when President Obama choose to confront the Washington insider game with clear moral leadership. To solve the jobs crisis he must do the same thing: build politics around what is right rather than what is perceived as popular. The end result must be aggressive job creation in our communities.

After bold action from Congress and the Administration to save our communities from catastrophe by passing the Recovery Act, what we've seen since are tax credits and money for Wall Street, and little or nothing being done to directly create jobs for the 16 million unemployed or underemployed workers in this nation. We can't afford political posturing when record numbers of people are losing their homes to foreclosure, and local governments are making tough choices about what will be the next vital city service cut.

The White House team has consistently said they think a bold jobs bill is good economics but bad politics. Maybe it's just me, but they seem to have looked at the equation and come up with the wrong answer. As President, Obama has the responsibility to address economic devastation across the country whether it's good politics or not. He must set the example and demand bold action from Congress to turn our jobless crisis around.

What's the solution? We call on the President to endorse and fight for a comprehensive jobs bill this summer. We need robust and direct job creation. It means confronting the obstructionists with a simple choice: are we going to create jobs for the unemployed or are we going to play political blame games?

Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.) has introduced legislation, the Local Jobs for America Act, which would create or save one million jobs. That's one million people buying goods and services and providing critical community needs across the country.

Saving existing jobs that are at risk because of deteriorating public budgets is critically important, as are the range of services that are at risk if such jobs are lost. Elderly care needs in communities go unmet when care providers like Lakechia Brown from Georgia are laid off. Without work, she can no longer afford rent and must find space on the couch of a friend's home. If Lakechia and millions like her had a job, it would provide a direct stimulus and crucial service to the local community and help the private sector recover.

I am astonished when I hear from Blue Dogs that fixing the deficit is more important than addressing the jobs crisis. We know that unemployment leads to higher deficits because unemployed people do not pay income taxes, and they receive unemployment insurance and other benefits. If our politicians do nothing about unemployment, our deficit will still grow and families and our communities will pay the price Anyone with more than a few days of experience in the political sphere also understands that creating jobs is not just good politics, but it's about the most popular thing government can do. It's also completely clear that people rate solving the jobs crisis as more important than the deficit in the short term.

Besides, Republicans who are refusing to spend to save American jobs are trusted less by the American people when it comes to the economy. According to the same Washington Post poll, more than two thirds of Americans blame former President Bush and his party for the budget shortfall in the first place.

If President Obama rightfully focused on a major jobs bill for Main Street, he'd find the Republicans painted into a pro-unemployment corner, extend hope to millions of out of work Americans, boost the economic recovery into high gear and reap huge dividends down the road when that robust growth reduces the deficit dramatically.

All it takes is putting his weight behind easy to understand federal legislation that would quickly create a million jobs.

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