09/08/2011 11:41 pm ET Updated Nov 08, 2011

American Jobs Act 'Significant Down Payment' on Jobs Crisis

President Barack Obama's address articulated his vision for an American Jobs Act. He put a critical eye on putting Americans back to work and reversing the deep economic recession caused by the banking crisis three years ago.

The time to act is now. Congress - Democrats and Republicans alike - must swiftly move from debate to passing the President's positive, job creating, legislative proposals. Republic before Republican. Democracy before Democrat.

Unfortunately, some members of Congress demonstrated their utter contempt of the President and refused to even show up - and they've not shown up for 242 days of the Obama administration, saying no, rejecting plans even before they receive and review them, and refusing to support or enact any job creation bills. No wonder this Congress is suffering from all time low poll ratings from the public that is disgusted by their dysfunction.

The President advanced several positive initiatives. His $450 billion jobs program is a significant down payment on the scope and size of the economic and jobs problem.

I applaud President Obama for planning to extend the payroll tax cut and extend unemployment benefits for the chronically unemployed. I applaud the new initiatives to help homeowners facing foreclosure and to revitalize the housing markets.

The President critically addressed our trade, tax and banking policies - stop off-shoring manufacturing and other businesses, stop outsourcing jobs abroad, and put Americans back to work. Congress must put an end to incentives for corporations to take their business and jobs overseas, and instead incentivize companies that invest in business and jobs in America.

Fifteen million Americans remain officially unemployed. We are over 6.5 million jobs below where we were before the recession started in 2007. Wages have not risen. Youth of color experienced 30 percent unemployment in the summer of 2011. Government must play a bigger role in targeting support and assistance to those people and communities who are most in need - those in the zones of pain in our urban communities. Congress must step up and pass the Jobs Plan.

The President cannot do it alone. The private sector must step up and begin to hire and create jobs. Indeed, the private sector is reaping record profits again with over $2 trillion still sitting on the sidelines.

The now often used analogy that a rising tide lifts all boats has proven not to be accurate, not when those at the bottom are left out. What has been good for the richest Americans, who received billions in bailouts and tax breaks, has not been good for the poorest citizens. Those on the top deck of the ship have risen, but those in the hull of the ship remain vulnerable.

President Obama is on the mark when he proposes closing the tax breaks and loopholes that enable the wealthiest Americans and corporations to avoid paying taxes. Everyone must pay their fair share.

New transportation and infrastructure spending, advocated by the President, is much needed to reduce the high and persistent unemployment among construction workers. This group accounts for one million of the nearly 7 million missing jobs.

The attacks on public sector workers by conservative Republicans are job-cutting actions. Approximately 290,000 school jobs have been lost since the beginning of the recession; 550,000 state and local employees have been fired through August 2011.

So, Congress must move to pass President Obama's proposal to fund school, road and infrastructure construction.

The President outlined a bold and hopeful plan for the future. Congress and communities across the country must now respond. We can't wait any longer. The President has put forth his jobs program, now it's time for Congress to show up and act.