Earlier today, the US House of Representatives agreed to modest elements of President Obama's $447 billion jobs package. The Senate approved them last week. That means the bill now heads to the White House for the president's signature.
The bill, which grants tax credits to companies that hire unemployed veteran and benefits to service members transitioning to the private sector, is a good one. But, it is barely a start on an urgent agenda (well articulated by the President) that includes new infrastructure spending in cities like St. Louis, aid for states like Missouri to hire teachers and first responders, an extension of benefits for the unemployed, and a payroll tax holiday for workers. These are the most important elements of the President's economic recovery plan about which Congress needs to get serious right now.
The country has a jobs crisis. We also have infrastructure, like the region's sewer system and bridges, that sorely needs repair and replacement. And we have shortages of qualified teachers, trained healthcare workers, and patrol officers. Congress should fix one set of problems with the other by putting people back to work rebuilding America.
All across the country, Americans from every walk of life, young and old and of every political stripe, are expressing their dissatisfaction with the way things are going using the words and actions that mean the most to them. If we are smart and careful enough not be distracted fighting among ourselves, our voices will be loud enough together to catch the attention of the legislators whose votes we need.