Part of the Bay Area News Group

Rep. Miller calls for jobs hearings

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Friday, September 9th, 2011 at 9:52 am in Congress.

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez

The morning after President Barack Obama presents his jobs package, Democratic Rep. George Miller of Martinez called for immediate hearings on the proposed legislation.

Miller is the ranking Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee.

Jobs — how to create them, how to keep them and how to take credit for them — is at the heart of the upcoming political debate at nearly every level.

Here is Miller’s statement:

 

Miller Requests Immediate Hearings on Job Creation Proposals

 WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), the senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, today requested that Chairman John Kline (D-MN) immediately schedule hearings into the job creation proposals outlined by President Obama yesterday. The Education and the Workforce Committee has legislative jurisdiction over a number of the proposals contained in the American Jobs Act.

 “The American people share the President’s sense of urgency that Congress must act together and act quickly to create jobs,” Miller wrote. “It is well past time for this Congress to refocus on jobs and take action to grow and strengthen America’s middle class. The President’s plan deserves to be heard. Our Committee should schedule hearings on his proposals as soon as possible.”

 The full letter to Chairman Kline appears below:

September 9, 2011

The Honorable John Kline

Chairman

Committee on Education and the Workforce

2181 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, DC  20515

 Dear Chairman Kline:

 Last night before a Joint Session of Congress, President Obama proposed the American Jobs Act, a package of proposals to create jobs immediately and spur future economic growth.  Given the urgency of our nation’s job situation and since the House Education and the Workforce Committee has jurisdiction over a number of the proposals in this plan, I respectfully request that you immediately schedule committee hearings on these important initiatives outlined by President Obama.

 During the recent August recess, Members heard from their constituents.  The message was loud and clear.  The American people share the President’s sense of urgency that Congress must act together and act quickly to create jobs. 

 Economists agree that creating jobs is the first, most important step we need to take to grow the economy, reduce the deficit, and keep Americans working.  Creating jobs now is the key to fixing nearly every other economic problem America faces today. 

 Businesses have repeatedly pointed out that their hiring has stalled for lack of demand.  By taking measures to directly put more Americans back to work, we grow demand.  Workers are consumers.

 As you know, in the wake of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, the country’s unemployment situation is in dire need of attention.  With more than 14 million Americans officially out of work, unemployment remains above 9 percent.  A staggering 6.2 million Americans have been unemployed for more than 6 months.  This long-term unemployment threatens to knock these workers permanently out of the middle class.  Some sectors have been hurt worse than others.  The construction industry’s nationwide unemployment rate stands in double digits.  Public service jobs, like teachers, firefighters, and police, continue to suffer from the downturn and its impact on state and local budgets.  Just this summer, 85,000 school personnel received pink slips, bringing the total of education workers losing their jobs since September 2008 to 290,000.  Those job losses result in larger class sizes, not to mention damaging pauses in teaching careers we should be nurturing.

 The President proposed several items within our Committee’s jurisdiction that can save and create jobs now and help the unemployed find work.  Some significant measures in our jurisdiction include:

  • A school modernization program, benefiting at least 35,000 public schools, would put construction workers to work repairing schools, upgrading science labs, and making classrooms internet-ready.  A portion of this program would be used for modernizing facilities in our nation’s critical community college system.

  • Education jobs funding would stop the layoffs of 280,000 teachers and support the hiring of tens of thousands more.

  • An employment law reform would prohibit employers from discriminating against unemployed workers when hiring.

  • A Pathways Back to Work fund for low-income individuals would provide for subsidized employment, support for innovative training programs, including at community colleges, and summer and year-round job opportunities for youth.

  • The long-term unemployed can benefit from measures to improve reemployment assistance, and work-share proposals intend to save the jobs of workers who would otherwise be laid off.

 The President’s proposals have enjoyed bipartisan support in the past. For example, you have long called for reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act.  We should act on reauthorization and reinvigorate reemployment assistance and job training efforts.  The important question is whether this Congress can work together with our President to help start creating jobs now.  Congress must put partisanship aside and seize this moment to move our economy forward.

 It is well past time for this Congress to refocus on jobs and take action to grow and strengthen America’s middle class.  The President’s plan deserves to be heard.  Our Committee should schedule hearings on his proposals as soon as possible. 

 I look forward to hearing from you on how our Committee will respond to the President’s call to action and to working with you on these matters.

 Sincerely,

 GEORGE MILLER

Senior Democratic Member

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

  • Elwood

    Gee, the stock market was really moved by O’bummer’s speech!

    Dow down 304. This kind of movement we could do without.

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    “Congress must put partisanship aside” says patriotic GM. When has the honorable member from Martinez ever put partisan interests aside? Grandstanding par excellence!

  • Elwood

    If you could remove the rhetoric from Georgie Porgie, he would implode like a deflated balloon.

  • Elwood

    Good news about O’bummer’s “jobs package”.

    It’s DOA in the house.

    Here’s looking forward to another 36 years of BS from Gorgeous George, Nancy’s most loyal lackey.

  • Milan Moravec

    Unemployment in California approaching 20%. Read on for details. I love University of California (UC) having been a student and lecturer. But today I am concerned that at times I do not recognize the UC I love. Like so many Alumni, Donors, Legislators, and Californians I am deeply disappointed by the pervasive failures of UC senior management and regents.
    Californians suffers from 19% unemployment (includes those working part time, and those no longer searching), mortgage defaults, loss of unemployment benefits. And those who still have jobs are working longer for less. Chancellor/Faculty wages must reflect California’s ability to pay, not what others are paid.
    UC Berkeley (Cal) planned pay raises for generously paid Faculty is arrogance. UC Berkeley (ranked # 70 Forbes) tuition increases exceed national average rate of increase. Chancellor Birgeneau’s leadership molded Cal into the most expensive public university in the USA.
    Can we do better with a spirit of shared sacrifices by Faculty, Provosts, and Chancellors?
    (17,000 earn more than $100,000)
    No furloughs.
    18 percent decrease UCOP salaries, $50 million budget cut.
    18 percent prune chancellors’ salaries.
    15 percent trim tenured faculty salaries, increase teaching.
    10 percent non-tenured faculty pay decrease, increase research, teaching.
    100% elimination of Academic Senate, Academic Council budgets.

    There is no question the necessary realignments with reality will be painful.

    UC Board of Regents Chair Sherry Lansing can bridge the public trust gap with reassurances salaries reflect depressed California wages. With UC’s shared financial sacrifices, the sky above UC will not fall.

    Yours is the voice that can make the difference, email UC Board of Regents marsha.kelman@ucop.edu

  • John W

    Elwood, I’m not sure you’re right on the “DOA” comment. Maybe, but Cantor and company are making noises about going along with some of the ideas, with some unspecified GOP ideas mixed in. It’s not the usual knee-jerk “screw him” stuff. Of course that may change when the White House sends over an actual bill, including the “pay fors.” Personally, I still feel the infrastructure stuff is good economics and better fiscal policy than growing the deficits even more by contracting the economy. I’m not in favor of the “mixed nuts” package of temporary tax breaks, including extension of the payroll tax holiday that everybody seems to love so much. Quite a few economists are questioning how much those would do for the economy. Permanently cutting the corporate tax rate, repatriation of foreign profits and accelerated depreciation make more sense to me. I like one of Romney’s ideas on regulation. If an agency wants a new regulation it thinks will have a good cost/benefit result, then they need to eliminate another regulation or combination of regulations of comparable size that has a less favorable cost/benefit ratio. It’s sort of like breeding out the bad stuff and breeding in the good. We should try that one in California too.

  • lars54

    I am concerned with this let’s steer more federal dollars to cops, firemen, and teachers. Auto workers got big bail-out, now we bail out teachers, cops, and firemen. But what of other workers? As a practical matter cops, teachers, and firemen – and auto workers for that matter, compared to many other workers, have fabulous pay, pension, and benefits. Sure, some have gotten laid off lately, that’s bad I suppose, but what of other workers? According to what I’m reading the high unemployment levels are predominantly in the area of high school educated, unskilled workers. They are bearing brunt of this hideous recession, so they should get the federal dollars. An unemployed firemen, teacher, or cop, they still have a good employment prospects, they have high levels of education, additionally, they will get picked up when economy improves, but these unskilled workers, they will struggle forever unless they get job skills and experience. I think Congressman Miller and Obama should focus on this large group of unskilled workers, forget about teachers, cops, and firemen, let’s help the workers that really need help, that’s my read.

  • Elwood

    @John W

    You’re right, we’ll know more when we see the actual bill.

    The AP has pointed out that the plan proposed by O’bummer will not pay for itself.

    Any more than the CA budget is balanced.

    “the payroll tax holiday” Wasn’t that put in place by the evil Bush?

    And cutting SS payments? That’ll make SS a lot more secure, I’ll bet.

    Extending unemployment benefits? 99 weeks isn’t enough? How about a lifetime benefit? Screw working!

  • John W

    Re #7 Lars54

    Agree that we need to do something about the fact that a huge portion of the potential workforce is not equipped to hold a job in today’s economy. Not sure what the answer is, but that structural problem affects all of us, not just them.

    However, I think you miss the point on cops, fire and teachers. It’s not about sympathy for those furloughed or layed off. It’s about (a) the fire/police protection we are not receiving and the kids in the education system and (b) the fact that those people being idled is a huge drag on the economy. Of course, we could afford to keep more of them working if not for the ridicuous retirement benefits and work rules. We have a Solyndra business model for our public employee workforce. Similar point about the autoworkers. It’s not about bailing them out. The demise of GM and it’s nationwide “Main Street” dealer network would have had a devastating chain reaction effect on the suppliers, which could have brought down Ford, even though Ford was relatively healthy and didn’t receive a bailout. That’s why Ford argued in support of the bailout for its competitors.

  • Publius

    I snicker when I hear any politician speak of “creating jobs”. A government funded job MUST be supported by private sector jobs that produce wealth. Team Geobama does not have a clue when it comes to creating jobs. Their answer is always to spend more money and pick out certain portions of society to help (driven ofcourse by political purposes). The Federal and State governments can spend all they want and we will NEVER witness a recovery. The government can slow a recession by spending, but we as a country will be stuck in a malaise of mediocrity with high debts and a stubbornly high unemployment rate that will not go down. This is where we are now. The politicians in power are good at prolonging the pain, slowly peeling the bandaid off one hair at a time. No matter how you put it, one day we will have to deal with the pain, the sooner the better in my mind.

    If I was a Republican in congress I would except the “infrastructure” bill only if the Davis-Bacon act was repealed. Government by its nature is wasteful Davis-Bacon only makes it worse.

    I agree with Lars54 on the true casualties of the recession. The best way to get them back to work is stop subsidizing unemployment. Bring the unemployment benefit back down to 26 weeks and you will see the unemployment rate drop. Combine that with the repeal of the minimum wage laws, and you will also see the youth unemployment drop.

    RE #5: You forgot about ending tenure completely, the practice is simply Un-American.

    RE John W: The New Deal model of government intervention will only prolong our bottom. CPR has been administered, we have a pulse. Now stop banging on our chest, and get out the way. Deregulate, shrink and reform our bloated government, and you will see America recover.

  • BGR

    What legislation? Miller is grandstanding!

  • John W

    Re: #10 comment on “The New Deal model” etc.

    I don’t like bloated bureaucracy or layered and overly centralized management anymore than you do. The real cost is not the money but the fact that they get in the way. I like the idea of sunsetting programs. Same crap happens in the corporate world. Just ask the CEO of Bank of America — about to downsize by about 40,000 people. But I still want people checking the food supply, approving prescription drugs before the hit the market, cops going after bad guys, firemen putting out fires, teachers in the classrooms, people fixing roads and bridges, CDC scientists and county health departments nipping contagious diseases in the bud, somebody preventing businesses from externalizing their costs by dumping PBC’s into the rivers and lakes or particulates into the air. Ron Paul thinks the free market will handle all that.

  • Publius

    RE: #12

    I am not a Ron Paul Libertarian, and I agree with your premise about our basic need for government. But let us not forget that we are a Representative Republican Democracy, and for 30 years my representative (George M.)has actively disrupted the balance of liberty and government intervention. It is now normal for the citezens of this country to excpect that the government will provide from cradle to grave. Most of those services you mentioned are needed by the public, but at what cost? Our American brand of democracy is in danger. Men like George Miller and the like have figured how to permantly secure a voting base by paying the would be voter with U.S. Tax dollars! The cost of our needed benefits will; one day, reduce this great beacon we call America, to a dwindling ember.

    Men like Miller and Stark have sat in their positions for over 30 years. They are seasoned professionals that continue to “serve” their local communities. They are a self fulfilling prophecy, offering more and more legislation to justify their positions; all along the way offering Tax dollars to a select group of voters and ever increasing the size and scope of government.

    Ask yourself. Is our liberty worth these services? Virtue is at the heart of our great Republic. I do not see virtue in paying a rank and file fire fighter $190k a year, while the common citizens toils for one tenth of that total. I do not see virtue with our government allowing collective bargains to drain the treasury. Virtue cannot exist in a career politician.

    “I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”

    -Thomas Jefferson

  • John W

    Re: #13

    I share some of your sentiments about entrenched pols and the abuses brought on by public employee unions and their elected enablers.

    However, I don’t think of any of the functions I mentioned as “services,” any more than I think of national defense as a service. Nor do I see them as encroaching on my liberty. I think they are pretty consistent with the words in the Preamble to the Constitution. I spent my formative years in a rural Kansas town with a volunteer fire department. It was pretty cool, but I doubt it would work out these days in San Francisco.

    As long as we’re quoting Thomas Jefferson, let’s remember that he established one of the first public universities and conceptualized a system of universal public education — elementary through higher ed. “Universal” meaning white males in those days. TJ sent Lewis and Clark into the West, using public funds, with instructions to record all kinds of scientific observations. I’ll bet people like TJ and Ben Franklin would have been all for government underwriting endeavors such as NASA and medical research.

    By the way, I know that quote is all over the internet. It might be something TJ would agree with, but I question whether he actually ever said or wrote it. It doesn’t even read like 18th Century vernacular, and “taking care of them” was not even part of the narrative about what government should or shouldn’t be in those days of agrarian self-sufficiency.

  • lars54

    Police and fire fighters are expensive workers, typically in California each City or county pays like $200,000 per cop or fire fighter, when you add all the pay and benefits. That’s a lot of money, you could put 4 people to work at $50,000 for every cop or fire fighter you employ with federal dollars. At Contra Costa County county, for example, departments have had their budgets pared down, workers that have retired aren’t being replaced, workers that are needed aren’t being hired, the county has a ton of work that isn’t being done, why not use federal dollars to hire and train this large cohort of unemployed – predominantly low skilled workers, get them “ready” for when the county does start hiring again. Putting 4 people to work at $50,000 makes more sense than hiring a $200,000 a year cop or fire fighter (that counts the inflated pay and benefits of public safety workers). We need to “target” this group that lacks skills, many of these people are drawing welfare and foods tamps – you are already paying them federal dollars, so if you put them to work you are getting them off aid and they will be gaining job skills. This wouldn’t be as “popular” as hiring cops, fire fighters and teachers with federal dollars, but it would probably do a lot more good in long run.

  • Publius

    Re: #14

    One last retort for our healthy debate. It is a mistake to cherry pick historical facts to support ones argument. True Jefferson did use the federal government to do the things you mentioned. Those acts serve as the exception. The main body and philosophy of Jefferson’s work was an inherent distrust of the Federal Government. He spoke of his election in 1801 as a revolution against the Federalist movement. Once elected he systematically tried to dismantled the federal government. The paradox of his willingness to use the federal government to “promote the general welfare” and his determination to “secure the Blessings of Liberty” provided a healthy balance, where an over active, far reaching federal government was the exception to the rule, not the norm we see today.

    “A government big enough to supply you with everything you need is a government big enough to take away everything that you have…. The course of history shows that as the government grows, liberty decreases.”

    -Thomas Jefferson

    I don’t know for sure if he actually wrote it, but it rings true today.

  • Elwood

    “Obama would raise taxes to pay for his jobs bill”

    Now THERE’S a surprise!

    http://news.yahoo.com/obama-raise-taxes-pay-jobs-bill-231154951.html

  • Rick K.

    Re: #15
    I agree with Lars54. Public safety worker compensation is unsustainable, especially because of the 3% at 50 pension scheme that the State of California adopted in 1999 (S.B. 400) and Contra Costa County followed in 2002 (thanks to then-Supervisor Mark DeSaulnier and others selling out the public interest). However, none of the Democratic establishment is pushing for reform of the 3% at 50 pension scheme. Gov. Brown and others are too close to the greedy union clowns who jealously guard these sweetheart deals (blame Gov. Gray Davis for signing S.B. 400 twelve years ago, but Brown today isn’t doing anything to fix the problem). Despite all of his (phoney) talk about “reform,” Sen. Mark DeSaulnier will never admit to his mistaken Oct. 2002 vote for the 3% at 50 pension scheme and you’ll never see him press for any meaningful reform of it. California citizens should refuse to approve any tax increases (locally and statewide) until the 3% at 50 pension scheme is reformed.

  • John W

    Re: #18 No argument. This stuff makes me head explode.

  • John W

    Re: #17

    What? You were expecting a telthon?