by Rep. Steny Hoyer
September 14, 2010
Members of Congress have spent the past few weeks in their districts, meeting with constituents and hearing their concerns. House Democrats have held more than 1,800 events in their districts this past work period.
What I’ve heard in Maryland and across the country is this: We’ve made progress in coming back from the biggest economic crisis of our lifetime, but the pace of our recovery remains frustrating. Families are still struggling with unemployment, foreclosures and economic insecurity. Responding to that insecurity and building on the progress we’ve already made continues to be Congress’s No. 1 priority.
At the top of the list is the Make It in America agenda, a plan to boost manufacturing, strengthen the work force and fight for a fair playing field for American companies that compete abroad.
For generations, Americans have looked to manufacturing as a source of pride — and of secure, middle-class jobs. Today, restoring our manufacturing sector is one of the best ways to make America prosperous for the long run. And we have momentum to build on: The U.S. manufacturing sector has expanded for 13 straight months.
President Barack Obama has already signed into law Make It in America bills that will make it cheaper for American companies to obtain the materials they need to manufacture goods, speed innovation by breaking the backlog of patents awaiting approval and close tax loopholes that encourage companies to ship jobs overseas.
More Make It in America bills are awaiting Senate action, including legislation that builds job-training partnerships among businesses, unions and educators; directs the president to work with industry and state leaders to develop a national manufacturing strategy every four years; helps clean energy firms compete at home and abroad; and combats the trade imbalance that harms U.S. job creation.
This week, Democrats are set to bring to the House floor two bills ensuring the Homeland Security Department and the legislative branch buy American-made products whenever possible. For the remainder of this Congress, Democrats will continue to bring to the floor bills that boost manufacturing. We hope that Republicans will join us in supporting them.
In addition, Congress will give serious consideration to the president’s proposal to use targeted tax policy to spur job creation. The options include a permanent research-and-development tax credit, which will make it easier for businesses to innovate, expand and bring new products to market; and a tax write-off for business investments in plant and equipment.
Republicans have already voted against tax cuts for 95 percent of Americans, against tax cuts to encourage small-business hiring and against the R&D tax credit. But I’m hopeful that seeing their constituents’ plight first hand will change some Republicans’ minds.
No one doubts that the state of our economy will be the voters’ focus. And no one doubts that millions of our constituents are still struggling.
But the choice before us is between two dramatically different directions.
On the one hand is the course of progress we’re already on: the Democratic policies that have led to eight straight months of private-sector job growth and, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, are responsible for as many as 3.3 million jobs.
Democrats have cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans and made vital investments in the roads, railways and bridges that are the backbone of our economy. For small businesses, we’ve cut taxes for employers hiring unemployed workers, supported $28 billion in new business lending and made it easier to cover employees with health insurance. And for middle-class families, we’ve ended credit card companies’ most abusive practices, made the biggest-ever investment in student lending (without increasing the deficit) and created tough rules to stop the reckless Wall Street gambling that wrecked the livelihoods and savings of so many in 2008.
On the other hand is Republicans’ promise, in the words of their congressional campaign chairman, to “go back to the exact same agenda” of the Bush administration — the same agenda that brought about this meltdown of our economy to its lowest point since the Great Depression, three-quarters of a century ago.
As Americans consider which direction best serves their interests and meets their needs, I trust that they’ll choose the Democrats’ path of progress and recovery, rather than a return to the failed economic policies of the Bush administration.
We are convinced that we can and will Make It in America once again.