The Economy and Jobs
The Road to Recovery
When I was first sworn into office in January of 2009, our country was losing over 700,000 jobs every month. The economy had been in a nose dive. American households had lost $16.4 trillion in wealth. We worried every day about the prospects of additional massive bankruptcies across our economy. Immediate action was needed to prevent our country from falling into further economic chaos.
That’s why I helped take action to pull us out of the worst economy in generations. I voted to cut taxes for 95% of American households. I voted to fund construction work and energy efficiency projects that will pay dividends for decades to come. I voted to preserve Connecticut's obligation to its schools and police departments, keeping teachers, police officers and firefighters on the job.
In the past 31 months, the economy has added 5.2 million private-sector jobs. Our economy is once again growing, if not at a fast enough rate. The corporate sector is profitable and Americans have recovered about three-quarters of that lost household wealth. Things are moving slowly in the right direction. But with millions of Americans still unemployed, a weak housing sector and still-tepid growth, there is much yet to be done.
Focus on Jobs
Since I arrived in Congress, building a stronger economy and getting people back to work have been my highest priorities. I have always believed that government can live within its means while still investing in the things that matter: education, energy and transportation. We need to combine short-term investments and tax-relief with a long term plan for fiscal stability. Sadly, this path has been made nearly impossible by partisanship in Congress and calls for the same type of severe budget cuts that have now flipped European economies back into recession. In contrast to the European model, our economy has slowly recovered. Since March of 2010, the private sector has added 4.5 million new jobs.
I have taken an aggressive and multi-faceted approach to fixing the economy and creating jobs for America’s families. I have supported extending tax cuts to help drive demand for goods and services. These include: extending the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts that were set to expire; cutting taxes for small businesses; expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit for moderate-income families. I’m especially proud of cutting the payroll tax once – and extending that vital tax cut to put more money in the pockets of every working American.
I worked with state and local officials in Connecticut to win competitive grants for housing, transportation and energy efficiency projects and I have helped non-profit agencies in Bridgeport, Stamford and throughout Connecticut. These projects are getting people back to work and helping entrepreneurs succeed.
When I visit small businesses across southwestern Connecticut, like high-tech firms in Ridgefield and Wilton and cutting-edge manufacturers in Monroe and Oxford, I listen to their needs. That’s why I introduced legislation to help small companies go public and help small businesses get access to the resources they need to grow. I supported legislation to help our exporters sell their goods overseas. And I co-authored the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act), which I was proud to see President Obama sign.
We're starting to see the results but the path ahead remains challenging. So, I will keep making economic recovery my top priority.
Thinking Long Term
Our long-term economic health depends, among other things, on fixing the structural budget problems that threaten our future prosperity. In 2010, the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform – better known as the Simpson-Bowles Commission – met and drafted a comprehensive set of recommendations to reduce our deficits by about $4 trillion over ten years.
I don't agree with everything in the Simpson-Bowles plan. It incorporates policy proposals from across the political spectrum, meaning everyone can find elements they do and don't like. It is designed to move us beyond partisan bickering and put our nation on a path towards fiscal responsibility, while providing much-needed certainty to our economy.
When the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles plan came to a vote, I voted for it. – one of only 38 of the 435 members of the House of Representatives to do so. For that, USA Today listed me among the “Brave 38” in an editorial supporting the effort. I appreciate that, but I would rather be among the 218 or more who vote to make it law.
That will do much to restore faith in our economy.
Leveling the Playing Field Overseas and Creating Jobs
I regularly hear from employers in Connecticut of the need to to level the playing field for American products overseas. We must. When we have fair trade, America wins. That's why I've supported new agreements with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia. I want to open foreign markets to U.S. goods wherever we have a good-faith partner eager to buy American.
Keeping Wall Street Honest
We can't let the lessons of the recent past go unheeded: failures of the American banking system which played a major role in the global economic crisis; the mortgage bubble in which millions of Americans got mortgages they couldn’t afford; a completely unregulated derivatives market; predatory credit card practices; banks and brokerages which enrich a few on the way up and devastate all on the way down. We cannot allow this to happen again. We must learn from history and embrace the values of reason and restraint that are so foundational to the American character.
I helped write the new laws that make sure taxpayers never again face the lose-lose choice between bailing out big banks or risking the collapse of our entire financial system. While opposition from those who preferred the status quo was fierce, I worked hard to create real financial regulatory reform—to both prevent a future crisis and ensure a financial market that works for consumers and businesses alike.
There is an essential role for regulation in our financial system. We must protect the interests of all Americans, not merely a few. We have to eliminate the financial risk to taxpayers that proved so destructive, and we have to make sure that no one can mislead the public to take advantage of individual investors.
It is absolutely essential that families can borrow to buy homes and send kids to college. We must support rules that promote transparency and help our innovators and small businesses invest in their companies, hire workers, and succeed. We must understand exactly what mistakes led us to the mess we were in, and make sure we never repeat them.
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