A picture of Representative Steven A. Horsford
Steven H.
Former Democrat NV 4
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    Jobs

    by Former Representative Steven A. Horsford

    Posted on 2014-01-07

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    HORSFORD. Thank you. First, I'd like to extend my appreciation to my colleague, Mr. Garamendi from California, for laying out the case for economic mobility. I'm glad that we're beginning to have this discussion at the beginning of this second session of the 113th Congress because it's the discussion that the American people desperately need this Congress to focus on, and you touched on it. Are we providing enough for the people who have too little? Are we focused on those who are in the middle class and are striving to be part of the middle class? I'm from Nevada. Nevada is currently tied with Rhode Island for the highest unemployment in the Nation at 9 percent. This is not something that we're proud of. We like boasting about being the entertainment capital of the world and the fact that we have some of the most magnificent natural resources. Unfortunately, the prolonged recession has hit our State and the people of Nevada to our core, and it's because, in large part, our economy was a growth economy. For nearly 20 years, year over year, we had double-digit growth, and people were moving to the great State of Nevada to help us build and to grow. During the recession, that changed. So, now, thousands, over 100,000, Nevadans are unemployed and have been, primarily from the construction, engineering, and architecture sectors of our economy.



    Thousands of Nevadans have spent more than a year now doing what many of us here in Congress maybe haven't had the perspective of experiencing. So my question to my colleagues tonight is, have you ever been unemployed? Do you know what it feels like to have to go to a work center or to spend your days full-time looking for work? Do you know what it means to submit resume after resume, never to get a call back, not knowing if it's your skills or some other issue as to why you're not getting that interview? Well, thousands of Nevadans have the full-time job right now of looking for work, and I recently held a meeting at a local work center, Workforce Connections, and met with constituents who are affected by this prolonged recession and the discussion that we're having here tonight about the need to have a priority and a focus on creating jobs in America again.

    They've been affected by the downturn in the economy, and they've been affected by the expiration of unemployment benefits, many of them. I promised that when I came back to Congress today that I would share the story of several of these constituents because too often we talk in this Chamber as if there aren't people behind the numbers.

    There are 1.3 million Americans, our neighbors, who are without unemployment insurance. Think about that term--insurance, of the unemployment insurance program, who are relying on this Congress to do its job so that our neighbors, our friends, and some of our family who are unemployed cannot be left out and without.

    So I just want to share the story of several of these constituents because I want to put a perspective on who we're talking about. One of the constituents, her name is Pauline. She's worked in a warehouse customer service position. She has a degree in bookkeeping. Unfortunately, after more than 20 years in serving as an accountant, her skills are outdated, and so as she has looked for current jobs, she hasn't been able to land one. She was laid off because technology devalued her position, and there was no longer a need for her services. She currently lives at a home with her husband and two adult offspring, who are also looking for work. One of her daughters just got hired, actually yesterday, as a teacher. She was very proud of that. So do you know what she is doing after 20 years? She has enrolled in a training program to update her skills in QuickBooks so that she can add that certification to her resume, because that's one of the things that the employers that she's applying for say that they want her to have, this certification. She's using the unemployment insurance as a bridge while she's in training to allow her and her family to meet their basic obligations to keep a roof over their head, to provide food on the table and to keep the lights on. Those are the basics that are being funded because of unemployment insurance.

    Then there is Alfordeen. She was laid off from the medical industry after more than 20 years as an administration person. She handled all of the admissions for this local medical company in southern Nevada. She is currently looking to obtain her certification for her to meet the minimum requirements for current positions in her field. She is also a cancer survivor. She found out she had cancer after she lost her job, the job that provided her health benefits. She was thankful because of the Affordable Care Act she now can get insurance again that she lost because she lost her job. After more than 20 years of caring for people in the health care industry, she is now relying on unemployment insurance as a bridge so that she can meet her obligations while going to school so that she can get back into the career that she loves, helping other people.

    Teresa also was laid off from the medical industry. She is in need of updated skills and certification in order to find gainful employment. One of the things that struck me about the stories, listening to Teresa, Alfordeen, and Pauline, is they all expressed the same concern that because they've been in the workforce for 20--one was in the workforce for 30 years--that they feel that they're not being given an equal shot now in competing for jobs when they go to apply, that they feel like because of their age, maybe, that they're being looked over for possible positions.

    I think that's a real issue that this Congress needs to confront. I know that there is legislation by people like Representative Schakowsky and others who want to bring this issue to this body, and I ask the Speaker to allow that legislation to be considered.

    {time} 2100 There is James, who worked also as a customer service representative and who is enrolled in a training program to become a medical biller because he knows that is a demand occupation right now and there are a ton of openings. Again, he needs to have a certification in order to get the job.

    Then there is Susan, who is currently unemployed, and her unemployment funds stopped 3 weeks ago. She is a single mother who is caring for her daughter and receives no child support. She has no family to rely upon, and she is not eligible nor seeking welfare.

    All of the Nevadans that I have met with have had their unemployment insurance lapse, and they are scrambling to make ends meet. No one, none of them, wants to live on unemployment insurance forever. In fact, they all said to a person that they wanted to go to work. Some of them were in training, and they were using unemployment as a bridge. Others go to the Workforce Connections office on a regular basis every week looking for jobs to apply for. None of them are lazy, Mr. Speaker.

    When unemployment insurance expires, it doesn't just mean those struggling to find work won't be able to put food on the table or pay the rent; it means money that is pumped into our local economy will also be lost, and that is a serious drag on the economy. So if you don't want to listen to me talk about the people who are affected behind the 1.3 million who are losing their unemployment insurance, the 20,000 Nevadans, then maybe you will [[Page H16]] care that this is a drag on our economy, and you will do the right thing by extending the unemployment insurance.

    Overall, failing to renew the emergency unemployment compensation program will cost the economy 200,000 jobs this year, according to the Congressional Budget Office, including 3,000 jobs in my home State of Nevada. The expiration of Federal unemployment insurance at the end of last week is already taking more than $400 million out of pockets of American job seekers nationwide and in local and State economies. In Nevada, the total economic benefit lost during the first week of the insurance expiring was $5.4 million. For every $1 spent on unemployment insurance, it grows the economy by $1.52, according to Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics. So there are some 17,600 unemployed workers in Nevada who have lost their unemployment benefits because this Congress failed to do its job in December when we had an opportunity to do it.

    I urged the Speaker, along with 170 of my colleagues, to not adjourn, to not go on recess until we completed the work of extending the unemployment insurance, but that request was not acted upon. So we are here, and as my colleagues have said, there are things, there are solutions that we can do to extend the unemployment insurance.

    If you want to offset it, if you want to have pay-fors, I would like to offer a couple of suggestions on how to pay for it. In order to offset funding for unemployment insurance, Congress could close a number of corporate tax loopholes, such as eliminating tax incentives for companies to move jobs overseas. Why is it that we continue to incentivize major corporations, based on U.S. tax policy, for shipping jobs overseas when we have Americans who are desperate for work right here? Why should big CEOs get corporate bonuses at the end of the year for sending our jobs to other countries when the people in our own neighborhoods could be performing that work? The United States loses an estimated $150 billion annually to tax- avoidance schemes involving tax havens. Many of our largest and most- profitable corporations paid absolutely no Federal taxes at all in 2011. So Congress could also find revenue by placing caps on commodity payments or eliminating or reducing subsidies to mega-farms in the farm bill that is currently being negotiated. So for whatever reason, if my colleagues on the other side of the aisle think that it is the constituents I talked about, who get $300 or $400 a week, who are the problem with the Federal budget, that they are the reason that we have a Federal deficit, then I would urge you to consider these pay-fors. Let us end the corporate tax subsidies. Let us end the policies that ship our jobs overseas, and let's start investing in America and Americans again. There are reasonable solutions, but that means we have to come together to get it done. We can't let rigid ideology trump the practical need to help those in need.

    I thank my colleagues, Mr. Garamendi and Mr. Tonko, for being here tonight, and I am hopeful that the Senate, under the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and my U.S. Senator, Republican Dean Heller, who is a cosponsor on the unemployment insurance bill, extend it for 3 months. They are working in the Senate to reach an agreement. I hope that the Speaker and my colleagues in the House will take it up and vote on it so that none of our neighbors go without unemployment insurance to provide for themselves or their families.

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