A picture of Representative Paul Tonko
Paul T.
Democrat NY 20

About Rep. Paul
  • Jobs

    by Representative Paul Tonko

    Posted on 2014-01-07

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    TONKO. Thank you, Representative Garamendi, for leading us in this discussion for an hour of focus on solutions that are possible out there, within our grasp, easily within our grasp. As you and the gentleman from Nevada (Representative Horsford) have highlighted with a very, very strong context placed in terms of the human impact here, and the great compassion with which you spoke, I couldn't help but think that we are challenged in this given moment by a very daunting series of questions, most notably: Do we reject our history, or do we respect our history? Our history, replete with success stories, perhaps in some of our darkest, deepest, painful hours, should inspire and direct and challenge us, guide us in a way that enables us to embrace the progressive voices of the past and use that in an instructive measure to move forward with the socially correct thing to be done so as to respond to those needs of the many, the bulk of the middle-income community that beacons us to be there and to be there in such a measure. Do we respect that history? Representative Garamendi shared the words of President Franklin Roosevelt. Are we willing to add to those who have plenty? We were challenged by President Johnson in his message addressing the war on poverty.

    Today, as all of these statistics were exchanged by my two colleagues, I couldn't help but recall the fact that we are reaching some of the greatest measures of productivity in our business community, in our industrial settings today. Where is the sharing of success? Where is the sharing with the middle-income community, the workers who have produced that sort of productivity? So let me understand this. The growth of the top 1 percent, the top income strata of our society, has been exponentially strong, all while we have seen a diminishing of the growth, the potential growth of our middle-income community or a flat-lining, all while we have been most productive in our industry and business settings. Where is the economic justice? Where is the sharing that allows for us to enhance that purchasing power of the middle-income community? That is the economic engine of this Nation.

    So as we are faced with these given statistics, as we are challenged with these economic times in the post-recession recovery, the moral compass should guide us, if not our history, replete with success stories. Do we respect our history or do we reject our history? I would suggest those progressive voices of the past that led us through our darkest hours envisioned an outcome that strengthened everyone in the equation, not playing toward favorites, because, in my opinion, catering to a small percentage of the population is a dangerous outcome for them. In order to succeed, in order to continue to grow and survive, you need to have that strong purchasing power.

    We know, we know from statistics, we know from past history that we should be guided by those economic reforms that enable social and economic justice to take hold. I look at the impact in New York State: 127,000 people affected when I look at the 20th Congressional District. In all of the statistics, the numbers swell from 127,000 to another series of 133,000 that will be affected. As it has been stated earlier tonight, some economic consequences of $400 million and 200,000 jobs lost. Are we willing to endure that simply by our lack of professionalism here? The willingness to walk past those who, through no fault of their own, are unemployed. Three people pursue every one available job, and that statistic also is accompanied by the requirement that you must actively pursue employment. It is part of the program.

    I was visited today, Representative Garamendi, by Vice President Biden in the 20th Congressional District. He and our governor, Governor Andrew Cuomo, and our State leadership, Shelly Silver, speaker of the Assembly with whom I had the pleasure of serving, who has been a great leader for New York, as has the Governor, and the Senate majority leader, Dean Skelos, all of whom have shown an interest in infrastructure, all gathered today in New York in the 20th Congressional District, specifically at Albany, our State capital. It was about Superstorm Sandy and the impacts of storms Irene and Lee that in 2011, for Irene and Lee, and in 2012 with Superstorm Sandy devastated various regions of New York State. Yes, we need to rebuild, but you need to do it [[Page H17]] intelligently and with an order of academics, and certainly with a strategic planning that accompanies all of that effort that is effective, efficient, smart government. The Vice President spoke to the wisdom of investing in infrastructure because commerce requires it.

    Across this great Nation, talk to the midland of America. Without the appropriate infrastructure, they can't send forth their agricultural produced products or their manufactured goods. They cannot ship forward, and so commerce is crippled by our lack of investment in infrastructure.

    {time} 2115 And so with great sensitivity the Vice President spoke, spoke to the infrastructure needs of New York and that we will utilize these efforts with the guidance of New York State, with the Governor and the legislature, to make certain that it is not merely replacing infrastructure damaged by the ravaging of Mother Nature, but rather restructuring and reorganizing how we respond to that.

    Much of our energy infrastructure, our water-sewer treatment infrastructure, our manufacturing infrastructure, are along water's edge, either intercoastal systems or the coastal system itself. We extended our land into the coastal system and now Mother Nature is saying, whoa, push back.

    But that urgency that came with those storms has us now struggling with infrastructure investment. Is that what we require in order to invest in infrastructure? So we need to go forward and make certain that these down payments on the future strength of this Nation are made and made sensibly and made in an order of investment, not spending but investing, where reasonable expectation, justified expectation, of a return on those hard-earned tax dollars is there. We will see that with the infrastructure improvement. So much can be done.

    I will close with this--not close with this, but---- Mr. GARAMENDI. Take a break.

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