02.12.09

“Importance Of The Economic Recovery Plan”

Mr. President, I rise today in strong support of the economic recovery plan because the American people and their communities need it to create jobs, help stabilize the economy, and protect those who have been most hurt by the current global economic and financial crises. 

For the American people watching this process, the resistance this economic recovery plan has met from many on the other side of the aisle must be more than a little dispiriting.  They remember how readily Congress rubberstamped hundreds of billions of dollars that the previous administration earmarked for Iraq, and then they see how difficult it has been to get bipartisan approval of investments here at home that are desperately needed to jump-start our economy, in the midst of the worst economic crisis we have faced since the Great Depression.

No one convincingly disputes the clear fact that we are confronting the most severe economic problems this country has experienced in generations.  The U.S. economy has been in recession since December 2007.  America’s GDP declined 3.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, the steepest drop since 1982.  The United States lost 2.6 million jobs last year, the most since 1945.  And last week we learned that the U.S. economy shed 598,000 jobs in January, putting the unemployment rate at 7.6 percent.

In my home state of Vermont, not only has the amount of credit available to small businesses shrunk significantly, but our unemployment rate jumped to 6.4 percent in December – the highest measurement in more than 15 years. 

Of course, Vermont is not alone in this struggle.  Workers, businesses, and state and local governments all across the country face mounting debt, slumping orders, and sagging budgets. 

To respond to this extraordinary crisis, I agree with President Obama and a vast majority of Americans that we must act quickly and responsibly to pass an economic recovery and job creation plan as bold as the challenges we face.  By acting now to strengthen our economy and invest in America’s future, we can create good-paying jobs, cut taxes for working families, and make responsible investments in our future.

Our number one priority should be to put America back to work.  This economic recovery plan will help create or save million jobs, including an entire generation of green jobs that will make public and private investments in renewable energy and make America more energy efficient. 

Investing in our country’s infrastructure and education will do more than create jobs today – it also will put the country back on a long-term path toward prosperity.  Rebuilding our roads and bridges; expanding broadband access to rural communities; making our energy grid smart and more efficient; creating state-of-the-art classrooms, labs and libraries; and investing in job training that Americans will need to succeed in the 21st Century economy will give us tangible assets that we can use for years to come to foster additional economic growth. 

As Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I would like to highlight that the funding for state and local law enforcement in this recovery package will not only help to address vital crime prevention needs, but will also have an immediate and positive impact on the economy, as police chiefs and experts from across the country told the Judiciary Committee in our first hearing of the year, which I chaired last month.  Hiring new police officers will stimulate the economy and lead to safer communities and neighborhoods.

Mr. President, nobody thinks this bill is perfect, but America is hurting and Americans urgently need our help.  I believe this economic recovery package will make a timely and constructive difference across the country by creating and saving jobs, making needed infrastructure investments, reducing the tax burden on struggling families, and relieving state budget deficits.

I hope other Senators will join me in voting for this important economic recovery package when it comes back before the Senate.  Vermonters are watching and waiting, working families across the country are watching and waiting, and time is running out. 

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Press Contact

David Carle: 202-224-3693