Last month, the National Bureau of Economic Research officially declared that the Bush recession ended last summer. That’s cold comfort to Americans struggling to keep their home, to find a job, or to rebuild their retirement savings.
But the reality is that the private sector is growing again. For nine months in a row, the private sector has created more jobs than lost. It is not been fast enough or strong enough to make up for the 673,000 lost under the Bush Administration, but we’re moving in the right direction. In Northern Virginia, we are blessed with an unemployment rate that is half the national average.
Where we are actually losing jobs is in the public sector. Local and state governments are having to let go of teachers, public safety workers and others as the stimulus funds that kept them afloat over the past year dry up.
According to economists Mark Zandi, an advisor to John McCain in 2008, and Alan Blinder, a former Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve, the “total policy response” of our government, from the Recovery Act to the rescue of our financial system, “probably averted what could have been called Great Depression 2.0.”
The stimulus legislation passed by Congress created or saved up to 3.3 million jobs, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Congressional Democrats also put in place the toughest Wall Street reforms in 70 years – including a first-ever Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – to rein in those who were gambling with your future. We ended the idea of “too big to fail,” and TARP was closed out early because that aid to banks has been 100% paid back to taxpayers, with interest.
Congressional Republicans opposed the stimulus, TARP and financial reform and have vowed to repeal the latter.
Congress further passed and the President signed into law 16 tax cuts for America’s 27 million small businesses. We shut tax loopholes that encourage corporations to ship American jobs overseas.
In a series of votes, remarkably, Congressional Republicans opposed both the small business tax cuts and the efforts to end the shipping of jobs overseas.
We made key investments and reforms to education because everyone knows the best way to create good-paying jobs and grow our economy is to keep investing in the world’s best workforce. We modernized our schools and prevented layoffs of hundreds of thousands of teachers, increased Pell Grants, made college loans more affordable and strengthened community colleges.
Congressional Republicans fought against saving teachers’ jobs – and sided with the big banks who were making billions in taxpayer subsidies on student loans.
After what economists are calling “the lost decade” of the 2000’s, the American middle class and small businesses need the economic reforms Congress has implemented to take hold and grow. But Republicans’ new “pledge” to the American people would return us to the exact same Bush economic policies that led to the recession.
The shock of the recession should not be underestimated. But, true to their nature, the American people are not about to throw up their hands and declare defeat. Together, we can manage the shock of this recession and rise above it.
Rep. James Moran (D) is Virginia’s 8th Congressional District Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.