Hoyer Statement on the Job Creation and Unemployment Relief Act

For Immediate Release:

September 26, 2008

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WASHINGTON, DC - House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (MD) today released the following statement on the Job Creation and Unemployment Relief Act:
 
“You only need to open a newspaper or turn on a TV to see the case for this economic recovery package made far more eloquently than I can make it.
 
“The financial crisis we are facing would have repercussions far beyond Wall Street—it could endanger the economic security of millions. Crisis or not, we are facing an economic downturn that is very real, one that speaks poorly of the President’s economic stewardship.
 
“This year, America has lost jobs every single month—a total of 605,000 this year. More than a million American families have been foreclosed on, and the housing market has taken its worst dive since the Great Depression. Household income is down under President Bush. 5.7 million more Americans are living in poverty since he took office. And today, 46 million of our fellow Americans are without health insurance. All of those facts call out, urgently, for this recovery package.
 
“This bill provides immediate assistance to those who are suffering through an economic storm not of their making. And, just as importantly, it gives that assistance in a way that stimulates the economy as a whole.
 
“It has five key provisions. First, it supports efforts to renew America’s outdated, worn-down infrastructure—the roads, bridges, pipes, and tracks that are the foundation of our economy.
Infrastructure projects are surefire job-creators.
 
“And we cannot expect to be a prosperous nation when more than 150,000 of our bridges are in as dangerous a shape as the bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis last year, and when some of our cities depend on century-old water systems. Past infrastructure investments—from canals to electrification to interstate highways—have brought significant economic growth in their wake.
 
“Second, this bill makes a serious investment in several renewable energy and energy independence programs. I am particularly glad that it includes funding for the advanced battery loan guarantee program authorized by last year’s energy bill.
 
“The program will provide assistance in the construction of domestic facilities to manufacture advanced lithium-ion battery systems, one of the energy innovations we are counting on to break our dependence on foreign oil and revitalize American industry. I was proud to write that provision with Mr. Dingell, and Mr. Inslee’s support has been instrumental in making it a priority.
 
“Third, this bill adds resources to the Federal Medical Assistance Program, sending aid to states forced to cut back vital services in this time of shortfall. Surely, even in these hard times, we can set aside money to care for the poor and the sick.
 
“Fourth, this bill includes a temporary increase in food stamp benefits. Food stamps can barely buy a month’s food for families in normal times. With the recent spike in food prices, we need an increase in assistance to match. Moreover, economists find that food stamps are one of the best kinds of economic stimulus, injecting money right back into local communities.
 
“Fifth and finally, the recovery package will extend unemployment benefits for seven weeks, or 13 weeks in the hardest-hit states. Like food stamps, unemployment benefits assist families while directly stimulating local economies. And if we do not act, nearly 800,000 workers who had their unemployment benefits extended in July will find themselves out of luck in a week and a half—dumped into the midst of a brewing economic crisis.
 
“Mr. Speaker, the state of our economy demands a comprehensive response. It should include a 21st-century energy policy, sound regulations to protect investors and taxpayers, and the financial rescue we hope to bring to the floor soon.
 
“But right now, for the people of our districts, this bill is the single most meaningful thing we can do. I urge my colleagues to pass it.”

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