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Job One: ADA Pushes Employment

Posted by Will Rice (will) on Aug 05 2011 at 12:48 PM
ADA Today >>

By Andrew Terrell

As President Obama learned in last year’s midterms, politicians can pay a price for failing to focus on the issue of greatest importance to voters.  But at least health care reform, which took up so much of 2009-10, offered relief to middle and working class families. By contrast, Washington’s current obsession—deficit reduction—only promises more pain for Americans still struggling through the Great Recession.

That’s why Americans care much more about a different deficit: the jobs deficit.  And yet, remarkably, in the midst of the worst sustained unemployment in 75 years, neither party is offering a comprehensive program to put America back to work. Still, certain members of Congress are putting forth ideas that, taken together, could substantially shrink the ranks of the unemployed, underemployed and given up.

ADA has collected three of those proposals into a “Vote for Jobs” campaign it plans to roll out this fall. Through Congressional lobbying and grassroots pressure, we hope to move the fight for employment to the top of the public agenda where it belongs.

The first “Vote for Jobs” proposal would revive the New Deal’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which in the 1930’s matched up willing workers with needed public projects all across the country.  Sponsored by Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), the new CCC would  immediately put people to work restoring our environment and improving our transportation infrastructure.

The second bill would increase employment by spreading it around more evenly.  Since those who still have jobs are often overworked, the Shortening Hours and Retaining Employees (SHARE) Credit Act addresses both sides of the employment crisis.  Introduced by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), the SHARE act would offer tax credits to employers who shorten hours (without reducing pay), thus creating more work for the unemployed.  Work-sharing has been a success in Germany, among other countries, and was an idea raised at the ADA Education Fund policy symposium at Harvard last year.

The final legislative measure deals specifically with youth unemployment. It is a resolution introduced—at ADA’s instigation—by Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) that calls for doubling the budgets of three public service programs that chiefly serve youth: the Job Corps, the Peace Corps and Americorps.  ADA recently hand-delivered a letter to every member of the House urging them to co-sponsor the resolution; the letter was signed by National Director Michael J. Wilson and Reese Neader of the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network, another organization focused on the youth jobs crisis. 

Creating more jobs is the number one concern of Americans. ADA will do its best in the coming months to see that America gets the Congressional “Vote on Jobs” the nation deserves.  Based on that vote, voters can decide at the next elections which politicians are actually paying attention to what really matters.

Andrew Terrell is an Aide at Americans for Democratic Action and M.A. candidate in International Political Economy at Warwick University.