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Put Our Economy Back on Track

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This week's historic vote by the House of Representatives in favor of President Obama's plan to revitalize our economy and protect the jobs of millions of working Americans is proof that the change we voted for has finally arrived. The House acted boldly to protect jobs and create opportunity by passing President Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestmant Plan. Against a backdrop of a worsening economic crisis that resulted in last year's loss of 2.6 million American jobs, and layoffs that accelerated in the early part of 2009, President Obama's plan will create or save three to four million jobs, strengthen our middle class, and improve the economy in the near and long term. As Americans face the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, we need to work together to put our economy back on track by passing this legislation.

President Obama's recovery plan will create jobs, jumpstart the economy and reinvest in the long term health of our communities. The plan includes fast-track improvements to our roads, bridges, schools and other infrastructure which are crumbling because of delayed maintenance and heavy use. These public investments create jobs and help the economy in the long run. It includes additional federal resources for the vital health care, education, law enforcement and family services that states and localities provide for their citizens. These services are particularly important during difficult economic times when we most rely on them. We can't put people back to work if we gut the public services that are vital to our communities.

With 11 million workers unemployed, with home values declining at an alarming rate and the need for vital public services growing rapidly, it is shocking that no Republicans were willing to put partisanship behind them and stand with President Obama. While economists and other experts across the board have praised the package and its focus on sound investments to stimulate the economy immediately, some Republicans on Capitol Hill are playing politics and standing in the way of recovery, blocking the progress that Americans voted for in November.

The Campaign for Jobs and Economic Recovery, a coalition of groups including AFSCME, Americans United for Change, MoveOn.org Political Action, and USAction is organizing hundreds of grassroots events, grass tops contacts, thousands of phone and emails to Members' offices and paid advertising in a four to five million dollar campaign. This effort will help move key votes in Congress to build support for this important package to begin to turn our economy around. The coalition on Wednesday announced a television advertising campaign targeting Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe (Maine), Senator Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Senator Charles Grassley (Iowa), and Senator Judd Gregg (New Hampshire) with ads demonstrating the clear momentum behind President Obama's first initiative in office and calling on them to stand with the American people.

AFSCME launched a new campaign, "Make America Happen," as part of the coalition support of the president's efforts to revitalize our economy, provide health care for all and strengthen the middle class. In the days ahead, thousands of AFSCME members will contact their senators, particularly those who remain on the fence, urging them to act responsibly and support the President's plan. We've created a video which highlights the lessons from President Franklin D. Roosevelt's response to the Great Depression. You can watch the video and sign up for the campaign to "Make America Happen" at www.MakeAmericaHappen.com.

We need to work together to get out of this mess. It won't be easy, but it can be done. We're going to flood the Senate with phone calls and letters. We're going to fight to pass this emergency legislation and put America back to work. And we're going to make sure that Senators know that working Americans expect them to put partisanship aside and do what is right for America.

We have a big task ahead of us. Every day of delay is a day when more Americans get a pink slip, when more communities see stores shuttering their doors, when more families find the American Dream farther from their grasp. The Senate must pass President Obama's plan promptly. Let's hope that Senate Republicans stand with the President during this crisis rather than playing politics like the House GOP.