THE BLOG

President Obama is Right: We Need to Create American Jobs Now

01/28/2011 03:32 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

With his State of the Union address, President Obama delivered an important message that Congress and the American people need to hear: our nation's leaders must pass legislation that creates American jobs now.

America, our shining city on a hill, has been blessed with great fortune in our proud past, but as the President noted, every generation faces new challenges and new opportunities. We must be bold and forward looking, never forgetting that America's prosperity has always relied on hard work, solid education, and well-maintained infrastructure. We're a nation that has always thrived when we've built things - the light bulb, the automobile, the Internet, and the GPS. We need to build things again. We need to Make It In America

During the Great Recession, America stared into the abyss, but with the leadership of President Obama and Democrats in Congress, we steered our economy toward a better path. We invested in infrastructure, education, manufacturing, and smart tax incentives, putting millions of Americans to work. With the Recovery Act and other pro-growth, pro-jobs laws, we did a lot, but we need to do more. President Obama is right to call on this Congress to pass legislation that creates jobs now.

America - the idea and the nation - is at a crossroads. For decades we have stood by watching our manufacturing sector atrophy. We've seen hardworking breadwinners thrown to the curb, because big corporations can make more profits offshoring jobs to countries with atrocious labor and environmental standards. We've seen middle class families kicked out of their homes, because wages have not kept up with costs. We've seen too many great people on the sidelines of our economy, their talents wasted and dream deferred, because there simply are not enough jobs. We must do better. We must Make It In America again or else we're not going to make it in America.

An American child born today will grow up in a world where her nation's long held claim to economic supremacy will be challenged by peers in China, India, and elsewhere. She will live in a world where computer literacy and access to high speed Internet largely predict achievement. She will live in a world of infinite potential for people and nations committed to a better future. She will live in a world where mass transit and clean energy are everyday necessities of life, creating good jobs for someone somewhere. Let's make sure we Make It In America and create American jobs now, so that she will live in a world where America is still the leader of the free world.

American manufacturing, which produced the largest middle class in history, is crucial to building sustained prosperity for the years to come. Across this country, we see evidence of a new fledgling Clean Energy Industrial Revolution. Detroit is producing hybrid cars, Pittsburgh is constructing robotic instruments, Schenectady, New York is developing advanced batteries, and Livermore, California is building solar panels. Across this country, clean energy is creating jobs.

In his State of the Union address, the President called for one million electric cars and a stronger clean energy standard. By setting this goal, the President was challenging Americans to dream big.

The President is right. This is our Sputnik moment. Imagine if we had responded to the challenge of Sputnik by soaring to the moon in a space shuttle that was Made in the Soviet Union. We could have gone that route - admitted failure and surrendered our economic and security assets to another country. Instead, we focused on inventing and constructing crucial technology, which sparked a wave of new businesses and jobs. Similarly, to address our twin 21st century challenges of energy security and advanced infrastructure, we cannot depend on the kindness of other countries. To enhance our geopolitical security and to create the jobs of the future, we have to strengthen these key manufacturing sectors.

As we see when basic scientific research spurs the flourishing of new industries and generates millions of new jobs, public policy has a valuable role to play in setting the stage for a return of America's manufacturing prowess. A good first step would be to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent on American-made transportation and renewable energy projects. I am introducing legislation to this effect. Strengthening domestic content requirements for high-speed rail, solar panels, biofuels, and other growth industries will create jobs, right here in America, right now. It just makes sense.

America has energetic entrepreneurs, a skilled workforce, and visionary inventors. Let's give them the opportunity to do what they do best- to work. The building blocks of a prosperous future are available today. Let's start building.

Congressman John Garamendi (D-Walnut Creek, CA) represents California's 10th Congressional District, which includes parts of Contra Costa, Solano, Alameda, and Sacramento counties. As California's Lieutenant Governor from 2006-2009, he chaired the California Commission for Economic Development.