Larson: GOP Has Had 400 Days; It’s Time To Act On Jobs
WASHINGTON – House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (CT) was joined by Robert Baugh, the Executive Director of the AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council, for a press avail before the Democratic Caucus meeting today on the need for Congress to address Jobs. Below is the transcript and video:
Chairman Larson: Good morning and I’m honored this morning to be joined by Robert Baugh, who is the Executive Director for the AFL-CIO. I’m especially glad he’s here because he’s addressing our caucus as we continue to push towards jobs for this country.
We start by noting that tomorrow will mark the four-hundredth day that Congress has been meeting without a jobs bill being brought to the Floor of the House of Representatives. We continue to hear from our Members and believe that we have to go out and re-ignite the American dream.
How do we do that? We do that by creating jobs for the small businessman, for the entrepreneur to create innovation that bolsters our middle class.
How do we that? By providing ladders of opportunity that they can reach through greater skill sets in education and investment by their government, so that we can put this country back to work.
We do that by making things here in America with a focus on manufacturing.
Nobody knows this better than our guest today, who is going to address our conference, let me give the podium to Robert Baugh, Executive Director of the AFL-CIO.
Robert Baugh, Executive Director Industrial Union Council, AFL-CIO: Thank you, Congressman, you just gave me a big promotion. I’m the Executive Director of the Industrial Union Council, which is manufacturing…I think President Trumka would object to that…I’m Executive Director of the Industrial Union Council and we are a council made up of the manufacturing unions of this nation.
I’m very honored to be here today to speak to the Caucus about this, but I think our message is very clear; that we are really pleased to see 50,000 manufacturing jobs created last month in this country, but I make the point we would have to have that for the next one-hundred months to hope to even regain what we’ve lost in the last decade.
So we have dug ourselves a very deep hole and we have to have a long-term focus on revitalizing manufacturing in this economy. If you want to know what has been happening to the middle class, look at what has happened to manufacturing. Those are the good, working middle class jobs that have disappeared from this country and it doesn’t have to be this way.
I think that’s our message here: it doesn’t have to be this way. We can be smart. We can be strategic as a nation and we can make a commitment to wanting to have manufacturing and take the steps forward necessary to make that scenario come true. We’ve done it before. We need to do it again.
Chairman Larson: Thank you very much, Robert.
We also know that the sands are sifting through the hourglass on the payroll tax initiative and we feel very strongly that this is something we could pass today. Once again, we feel like we’re being held hostage. Will this go up to the twenty-ninth of February when it absolutely has to be passed? This is something that, frankly, Democrats believe is an emergency and doesn’t need a pay-for, but if you’re going to pay for this, why not pay for it out of oil subsidies and the nation’s wealthiest one-percent?
Let’s make the tough decisions that have to be made here in the United States Congress. People need this money and tough decisions are going to have to be made. We can pass this bill tomorrow. I don’t know why it’s being delayed from being brought on the floor and I thank you this morning for joining with us. We are on our way to be educated by the new Executive Director, frankly, of the Industrial Policy for the AFL-CIO, with all apologies to Mr. Trumka. Any questions before we go? Sure.
Q: In terms of the payroll tax cut deal: a lot of people are referencing it, saying it might end the way the super committee did, with failure. Are you worried that it might fail? That the conference might not be able to get a deal? And, also, would you be open to a shorter term deal? Democrats have been talking about something like another two month deal.
Chairman Larson: Listen, I think one of my constituents said it best: what we have created for the American people is the dark abyss of uncertainty. We have now punted this on two specific occasions. This would be a third time.
What we need to do is provide the American economy and, more importantly, the American citizens with certainty. I would remind members of Congress, as well, when they check their paychecks this past month and they saw, all of a sudden, there was an increase in that, instead of the decrease that had been expected. It was because of inaction by the United States Congress and that’s what we need to, to have action. I think that it should be past for a year. I think it’s time to bite the bullet. Obviously, we don’t think it should be paid for. We think they should recognize it. However, if it’s going to be paid for, we think it should be oil subsidies and we think it should be a tax on the nation’s wealthiest one-percent. Not unreasonable.
Q: I didn’t actually hear you say if you rule out a shot-term extension. Are you aiming high and settling low? Where are you?
Chairman Larson: Well, we’re in the minority and, so, what I would rule out or not has little impact on what the majority will do. But, you know, in this place you can’t rule out anything. But, for God’s sake, it’s not about what I’ll rule out, it’s about what you are ruling out for the American people. You know? You are ruling out, again, creating more uncertainty, slowing down the economy.
I get it, with respects to these guys. For God’s sake, the Speaker had to tell the Conference the other day that the transportation bill won’t create any jobs in order for it to pass. That’s the kind of environment that we’re operating in up here. I mean it’s the theater of the absurd.
You want to put people back to work in this country. We still have 14 million out. Yes, we’re making steady progress and that’s a good sign, but why aren’t we putting the President’s bill on the Floor? Just out of common courtesy and decency.
Clint Eastwood’s got its right: it’s halftime. Now, let’s kick the ball off and let’s take it down the field on behalf of the American people. Let’s demonstrate that we can work together in order to put this country back to work.
And I apologize, but we have to go in….
Q: One quick question…
Chairman Larson: Sure.
Q: I know the other issue that is yet to be resolved are all of the reforms to Unemployment Insurance that the Republicans want. Do you see any room for compromise on that? With the drug screening….
Chairman Larson: I think, again, there is a very clear path in front of us. That path is to adopt the payroll tax cut. And we believe, again, that you don’t need any pay-fors to do that. This is an emergency. When in our history have we done this before? How about never. So, again, we are being hostages to a conference that can’t even agree itself on whether it’s for it or not and then is trying to hold Democrats hostage and, frankly, not even Democrats, but the people who are going to receive this, plunging them into the further abyss of dark uncertainty.
We need solutions and answers. It’s over four-hundred days. They’ve had a lot of time to ponder on this. Let’s act. Let’s do the responsible thing as a Congress and pass this legislation, so people can get a predictable amount of money in their paycheck and know that it’s going to be there.