Jobsby Representative Marcy Kaptur
Posted on 2013-12-10
KAPTUR. Congressman Garamendi, I would like to commend you for
the leadership that you have shown on the jobs front here. Your coming
from California, that vast, vast State, I think brings such a
perspective to all of us. And Congressman Enyart comes from a rough and
tumble region of Illinois. We in northern Ohio identify with your cause
and are one with you in your cause.
If there is an ad in our district for a job--or for maybe 10, 20, or 30 jobs--thousands of people apply. It is incredible to see.
And you mentioned in your earlier remarks how many veterans are unemployed. About a week ago, at one of the food banks that I represent, 1,050 veterans showed up to get a bag of food to keep it together for another week.
If you look across this country, there are many whose glass is only half full, [[Page H7622]] and it is not for lack of effort or service to this country. It is still a lack of jobs.
During the Bush years, we hemorrhaged over 8 million jobs as a result of the recession. We have gained over 7 million of those now, but we still haven't come back to the 8 million, even though we have had 44 months of consecutive job creation, as Congressman Enyart mentioned, at about 200,000 a month. But that is not enough to employ all those who remain unemployed and those who are underemployed, those who literally have to apply for SNAP coupons to help their family afford food because they are not paid enough.
And what I see happening over the last quarter century is that even though those who have capital--big resources--and they invest money and they make a lot of money for their shareholders and themselves, the people that they hire are falling further and further behind. And they expect the government to compensate for low wages.
And so if we have SNAP coupons, there are millions of people who receive them who are working for minimum wage. They don't make a living wage.
If you look at health benefits, it used to be that you got your health insurance through your place of employment. But guess what, that is all turned upside down. Now the companies are saying, Let the government pay for it. We have to do this because they do not make access to health insurance as a part of the employment package that is offered to their employees. Some still do; but my goodness, how much has changed.
The same is true with retirement: defined benefit as opposed to defined contribution plans. People used to get a benefit in their retirement that the corporation provided. They just didn't hog everything to those at the top, but the pyramid has gotten very pointed; and the money flows up, and it isn't flowing down. We have an attrition in the middle class. Every single American knows it.
Now, if you look at the Congress and the very worthy legislation that you have introduced, I say to myself, What has happened here? I read one magazine that said for the new Members that were elected-- and it was quite a sizeable class--the average worth of those new Members was about a million and a half dollars.
Think about that. The pyramid we see in the corporate sector is reflected right in here. Fewer and fewer people are getting elected from the middle class. And I don't come from the middle class. I came from the working class. We looked up to the middle class. So I know what part of America I came from.
So many people here, honest to God, are good people, but they are so privileged. They have myopia. They can't help it. They really can't identify with the struggle of ordinary families, and the other part of it is they look down because they have never walked in the shoes of those who have gotten an unemployment slip or a pink slip.
I remember when our dad came home with those. I used to have to sit by our dining room table and figure out how much would we spend on food, how much would that be worth, how long would he be unemployed. It was a very hard thing for our family. He actually had to sell his little store because he didn't have health insurance, and he went to work in a company on the line in a factory for one reason: to get health insurance for his family. Not for himself, but for his wife and two children.
There are so few here who actually have walked in those shoes.
So we do have a problem here. That same pyramid is operating.
If I could just finally mention the value-added investment in manufacturing. Manufacturing now comprises about 13 percent of our economy--the jobs--but it packs a much larger wallop for what it provides because it really does create something that didn't exist before. It isn't just shifting product around. It is actually creating something.
The decline in manufacturing as a percent of our total economy has declined so much in the last 25 years. We are now trying to pick it up, with the President's help; and we are seeing that in the automotive industry. Just this week, General Motors paid back and is flying on its own now again. All of us who supported that refinancing of General Motors are cheering and cheering and cheering wherever we can-- certainly in the communities that we represent.
But I can remember when the other side didn't vote for it; and they would have killed all those jobs in our country, the community, the people that work in them.
So I say to the gentleman, I thank you so very much for standing up for job growth in this country. Thank you for standing up for manufacturing, because for every one of those jobs added, we create new wealth for our country, and we help America to come out of the slump in manufacturing that she has experienced over the last quarter century.
I just hope that in the new trade bills that come before us we will have jobs as our first priority and market opening abroad that keeps our products out.
Again, I want to thank the gentleman. I support your legislation and I support your efforts for investment to create wealth, whether it is infrastructure on the public side or whether it is infrastructure on the private side. Those are the jobs that really create the new wealth and expansion of jobs for America.