Although President Obama plans to lay out a new jobs-creation strategy after the Labor Day holiday, one prominent House Democrat isn’t waiting.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio has begun urging his colleagues to support his National Emergency Employment Defense Act, which a statement from his office says is a “dramatic, new, concrete plan to get Americans working again, rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and to take control of our monetary policy from private banks to promote the public interest.”
“It is time to get real about creating jobs. Not just talk about it. But come up with real, concrete proposals which can put America back to work,” Kucinich says.
Washington policymakers have been preoccupied with debate for months over budget-cutting and the federal debt and deficit, jobs remain an issue, with the U.S. labor market mired in a deep slump with the national unemployment rate sitting above 9 percent.
In July, despite 17 months of private-sector job growth, there were still 6.8 million fewer jobs on nonfarm payrolls than when the recession began in December 2007.
It remains very difficult to find a job. The Labor Department’s most comprehensive alternative unemployment rate measure — which includes people who want to work but are discouraged from looking and people working part time because they can’t find full-time jobs — was 16.1 percent in July, not much below its all-time high of 17.4 percent in October 2009 in data that go back to 1994. By that measure, more than 25 million people are unemployed or underemployed, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington think tank.
“Our nation is in crisis. The economy is still on the edge of a precipice. The old ways aren’t working and won’t work. We can’t continue down the road that takes us deeper into debt and despair. There is a way out,” Kucinch says in a letter to his colleagues.
“That is why I am introducing The National Emergency Employment Defense (NEED) Act of 2011. It will end the debt. It will rebuild America. It will make the American Dream a reality for everyone; for today’s generation and for the generations to come. It gives our youth unrivaled career opportunities,” adds Kucinich, who gained national prominence through two unsuccessful bids for the White House in 2004 and 2008. “The NEED Act assures a sustainable fiscal path. It can reduce deficits to nothing, without tax hikes, spending cuts, or inflation. And it will pay off the national debt as it comes due. My legislation can end the recession, unemployment and the foreclosure crisis.”
In the last 10 years, banks have added an average of $500 billion to the money supply per year, Kucinich says.
“This is a huge amount of power that Congress has given away,” he says. “The banks have shown that they’re incapable of using this power responsibly, or in the widest economic interest. Instead they’ve wasted most of it by pumping it into a series of unproductive bubbles. The loss to the nation is truly enormous, especially considering the opportunity cost of the real wealth that could be created with first use of that money.
“My bill reasserts the Constitutional right and responsibility of Congress to furnish the nation with a money supply fit for purpose,” Kucinich adds. “No more wild swings from economic boom to bust. No more erosion of purchasing power. We can at last have a stable currency.”
Kucinich says that his bill would do three things:
· Incorporate the Federal Reserve into the Treasury and make monetary policy truly accountable to the Congress and the American people.
· End the banks special privilege by no longer allowing them to create a U.S. money supply when they make loans, through a simple and non-disruptive accounting change.
· Invest money into renewing the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, making it fit for the 21st Century; creating real wealth and millions of good jobs at the same time.
“These essential changes will ensure our economy is the most efficient and prosperous in the world,” he says. “It will raise demand for American-made goods at home and abroad and reduce our trade deficit.”
The lawmaker says he plans to officially introduce his bill later this year. With Democrats in the minority in the House of Representatives, however, Kucinich’s legislation would face an uphill fight.
Scott Nance is the editor and publisher of the news site The Washington Current. He has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.