Saturday, November 19, 2011

Basic 101 on The American Jobs Act

Amid small jeers, Brian Benjamin of the Obama National Finance Committee briefed the public about the The American Jobs Act, at Bethany Baptist Church in Brooklyn, a chilly Friday night ago. Was it the weather or was it the economy that kept too many people away from the opportunity to have a national program explained in simple language?

The American Jobs Act, when passed by the legislature, will allocate $447,000,000,000 to hire American workers, extend unemployment insurance, and give employers tax incentives to re-ignite the economy. President Obama faces stiff opposition from the Republicans for dollars and strategies that retrain Americans in needed jobs in a global, post-industrial reality; effectively address discrimination against the long-term unemployed; keep in place key public jobs such as teachers, the police and firefighters; finance national infrastructure projects and establish an infrastructure bank for a sustainable stream of financing to upgrade existing structures and the installation of new ones.

$175 billions is allocated for payroll tax cuts. Specifically, employers would receive a $4,000 per employee tax relief for hiring the long-term unemployed. $50 billion is allocated for national infrastructure projects which include telecommunication and information technology comparable to other leading nations. $49 billion for the Pathways Back to Work; $5 billion for summer youth programs; and $15 billion for Project Rebuild which renovates commercial properties and undeveloped land along America's main streets.

Prior to Benjamin's talk Kirsten John Foy NYC Public Advocate's community affairs director discussed the changing global economic scene and what Americans needed to do to stay viable. "American cities aren't at the level of Wi-Fi accessibility of other world cities." This leaves Americans unable to effectively compete for jobs, projects and other opportunities because the global economy is fueled by broadband.

Employment for American veterans coming from Afghanistan, Iraq and other conflict areas are addressed through the Returning Heroes Tax Credit. Given the permanent loss of certain jobs, low consumer spending, disrepair of roadways, communication and utility lines, one would believe there would be bipartisan support of the Act; however, it isn't the case. When queried whether the Republicans opposed the American Jobs Act because they want the act renamed and accredited to a future Republican president, St. Senator Velmanette Montgomery responded, "The Republicans could take the credit for it right now." It has more to do with a fundamental stance on governance and the federal government's role in meeting societal needs.

Brian Benjamin explained "the sources of the $447,000,000,000 are one-third coming from the bill, tax increases, and another portion from reallocation of the federal budget." Benjamin stressed that the Act provided a framework for dollars and programs without details in program design and administration. This means people can propose specific initiatives, programs and strategies with specified dollar amounts to realize outcomes and results. The audience was asked to collaborate on developing sound program proposals and not wait for others to do so.

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