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Let’s Put Americans Back to Work

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Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson (Photo by Andy Fredericks)

My fellow Americans, we cannot tackle our nation’s deepest problems until we tackle its biggest current problem. And that problem is that too many men and women who want to work cannot.

When Americans are out of work, they cannot support their families or invest in their futures. Young people move home and struggle under student debt. Older Americans leave the workforce for good, often without health care or adequate savings for retirement. The longer workers are out of a job, the harder it is for them to get back on their feet. And the harder it is for our nation to get back on its feet. When jobs are plentiful, wages rise. When jobs are plentiful, people invest in skills. When jobs are plentiful, the ladder of advancement is scalable. When jobs are plentiful, we are able to honor the sacred commitments we have made to the security and advancement of the American people.

Some say we cannot afford to get Americans back to work. They are wrong. If our economy were running at full speed, we wouldn’t have a budget problem. As the experience of our great ally across the Atlantic, Britain shows, trying to slash the budget now will only make the jobs problem — and our budget challenges — worse. We know this, experience has shown it. The United States has recovered more quickly than Europe because we have understood that the budget isn’t just a line of numbers. It is a set of priorities, for today and for the future. And our top priority must be getting Americans back to work.

That is why I am calling on Congress to spur job creation through large-scale investment in our nation’s productive capacity. This is not just about helping those who are struggling; it is about our future, our children’s future, our planet’s future. In a global knowledge economy, we need more than ever to bolster our competitive standing. We need to invest in roads and bridges, in broadband available to all, in our elementary and high schools and community colleges. We need to invest in clean energy and green technology to head off the threat of global warming. And we need to step up our investments in research and development and science — to provide the seed corn for the next entrepreneurial harvest.

The road back from the crisis that Wall Street helped create is a long one. And yes, we are moving down that road at last. Last year, our economy added over 2 million jobs. But we must speed up our pace. At the current rate of job creation, it will be almost a decade before we return to the employment levels that prevailed before the crisis.

We cannot wait that long.

Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson are the authors of Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class. In the inaugural episode of Moyers & Company, Hacker and Pierson discussed their book with Bill.

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  • Bruce Park

    He should be honest and say “I know I promised hope, change and all that mumbo jumbo. But I lied. I’m a globalist, just like the Republicans. I work for the Big Rich and same corrupting lobbyists that they do. I’m protecting the one percent and ensuring that the fascist New World Order continues to thrive. I don’t care if you have jobs. If I like you, I’ll give you a gov’t hand-out. Get used to it, the other side is worse.”

  • Tom Canavan

    I wrote Moyers before so he knows how to end poverty, create jobs and do it without new taxes. Can he read? Can you? It’s Promote it or shut up about it.

  • Steve Woodward

    These jobs — in rebuilding roads, bridges, schools, and those mitigating climate change — aren’t simply about “making” jobs or creating work. These jobs really need to be done, and the sooner we do them, the less they’ll initially cost, and the sooner these wise investments will pay off.
    By the same token, the longer we put them off… Well, as God said to Noah when he was balking at getting started on the ark (at least according to Bill Cosby):
    “Noah, how long can you tread water?”

  • Steve

    Unless actually creating a jobs creation strategy becomes a priority it will merely be talk in the wind, soon to disappear. Yes, infrastructure is the place to start but creating across the board jobs is the bigger goal, and one that is in every political speech but always without a solution (plan of execution). Until there is a “how” all the “what” is useless. That is why we are where we are. Yes there are vast new disruptive changes transforming the jobs markets globally to which we must become aware and adapt to as quickly as possible. But we have done it before in our historical past when we went from the agricultural to the industrial to the technology ages. We can do it again with focused attention, foresight, and most of all a new game plan. We can’t do it in isolation but must do it together because we all have something to gain and much to lose if we don’t make it happen. Let’s make us vs. them into WE and start today to build a new and more balanced future for all. No guarantees, but lots of opportunity. A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step. Let each of us start by “being” the change we wish to see in the world.