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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

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The Right Priorities for Our Working Families

Posted: 03/29/11 04:45 PM ET

The 2010 election was a mandate for one thing: creating jobs and strengthening our economy for the long term. I heard that message loud and clear from New York families in every corner of our state, and I am working with my colleagues in Congress on solutions that will help create good-paying jobs and get the economy moving again for everyone.

But, instead of focusing on rebuilding the economy, House Republicans have unleashed an extreme ideological attack on America's women and working families with HR 1, the first bill they introduced this Congress.

The House-passed bill slashed critical funding for prenatal care, including $750 million from nutrition programs for pregnant women and infant children.

It denies more than 5 million American women access to breast and cervical cancer screenings that could potentially save their lives.

Their budget cuts affect early childhood education deeply -- cutting more than $1 billion from Head Start, and nearly $40 million from child care, depriving nearly 370,000 children from the early learning needed to put them on a path to a bright future.

And despite the overwhelming demand from the American people for Democrats and Republicans to work together to invest in job creation policies, House Republicans slashed nearly $1.5 billion from the job training programs we need to prepare America's workforce for the jobs of today and the high-tech jobs of tomorrow.

But, more than these dollar figures and the irresponsible budgeting and priorities from Republicans, this debate is about the working families who rely on these resources to make ends meet each day. From the single mother who will no longer be able to provide nutritious meals for her young children to the young woman in who will no longer have access to the early cancer screenings that could save her life to our children who will never walk through the doors of a university years from now because the doors to early education are being closed to them today. We cannot slash and burn our way to a healthy society and a thriving economy.

These are the wrong priorities for New York and the wrong policies for America.

Instead of marginalizing women, Congress must get to work on policies that can foster job creation and fuel economic growth. I have a range of proposals that can help get us there.

I have authored legislation that empowers more women and minority-owned businesses with the resources to help guide these budding entrepreneurs to be leaders of our economy, opening up access to the credit they desperately need to get their businesses off the ground.

I have also authored legislation to support the increase of young girls and minorities in the fields of math and science to generate the leaders we need in emerging high-tech industries that will be the future of our economy.

I'm fighting to make childcare more affordable for working parents so they can continue working and advancing their careers, closing wage gaps that for too long have held women back from the fair economic opportunities they need.

And, as our troops return home from Iraq and Afghanistan, and our women veterans become one of the fastest growing segments of the homeless veteran population, I'm partnering with businesses and working to provide them with tax credits in exchange for hiring recent veterans so our heroes have better access to good-paying jobs after serving our country.

These are the priorities that I am urging my Republican colleagues to join me on. And we can all do our part -- because this debate isn't just happening in the halls of Congress. It's happening in each and every one of our communities, at kitchen tables and living rooms, in our schools and in our churches. It's up to all of us to get off the sidelines and join the effort to protect our families and the resources that keep our communities safe, healthy and thriving.

We will not stand for this attack on America's women and working families.

It's time to focus on real solutions that will create jobs and build our economy for real strength and stability -- not just for the fortunate few, but for every American.

This blog comes from MomsRising.org and CustomFitWorkplace.org. Each week it presents innovative ideas to strengthen 21st Century American families through public policies, business and workplace practices, and cultural change.

 

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