DETROIT - Are creating jobs the "responsibility of a capitalist system and private market or is it the government's job," asked Michigan Congressman John Conyers.
The Congressman answered the question at his own town hall meeting on jobs by saying "we have to form the strategy to move our Congress, state and city to create jobs."
Conyers indicated that part of the strategy is to not listen to those that got us into this mess in the first place. Citing the choice of Republican Newt Gingrich as the keynote speaker for the recent Michigan Mackinac Policy Conference, Conyers said he refused an invitation to attend. The annual conference is sponsored by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, the nation's largest state-based free market think tank.
"To bring New Gingrich to a state suffering the way we are, for him to explain what we have to do to get out of the mess the Republican right-wing conservatives created before the 44th President, would be an absolute insult," said Conyers.
Youth in particular are suffering said Conyers. "We have generations of young people in school who are saying what is the use, everybody in front of me doesn't have a job."
Conyers' chief of staff Cynthia Martin said she "totally rejects" the conservative notion you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps, saying "some people have no boots." In Detroit that translates to a lot of people going without footwear. In this city of less than a million, there are 250,000 without a job said Martin.
State AFL-CIO President Mark Gaffney indicated "We need to create about 400,000 jobs a month to get out of the recession and 13 million new jobs by 2013 to get the unemployment rate down to be six percent."
He said the economy added 400,000 jobs in May but almost all were census jobs. Those are very important jobs but they are not permanent said Gaffney. The private sector only created 41,000 jobs in May.
Citing those statistics he stated, "It's not too much to call for, as we are today, a jobs program to provide for direct hiring by state and Federak governments. In past recessions people did work for the Federal government for up to a year. I did that myself under the CETA program when I couldn't find another job."
To come out of the recession you have to "fix problems at bottom and work your way up," said Wayne State University economics professor Michael Belzer.
Belzer said bills creating jobs or providing benefits such as food stamps are "all designed to put money into pockets of those at the bottom of the income scale. These people spend their money at home in their communities. They use the money to put somebody else back to work.. Every dollar we spend at the bottom can circulate two to three times."
He said reducing the deficit is not so difficult. By repealing the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy and by regulating banks and financial centers, "we'll come out of the water."
A number of bills were highlighted during the meeting that would create jobs and ease the economic crisis including:
- HR 4812 the "Local Jobs for America Act," otherwise known as the Miller jobs bill. It would create and save a million public and private jobs in local communities this year. Support will be targeted directly to states and municipalities with the greatest number of people out of work to help restore important local services.
- HR 5204, the Full Employment and Training Act sponsored by Congressman Conyers (D-MI). Over a ten year period it would gradually create full employment and have government providing jobs as a last resort.
- "The Right to Rent Act of 2010," introduced by Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH). It would allow homeowners whose homes have been foreclosed to stay in their homes at a fair market rent for up to five years.
- "Let Wall Street Pay for the Restoration of Main Street Act," introduced by Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) in the House and Senator Tom Harking (D-IA) in the Senate. It assesses a miniscule tax on Wall Street securities transactions. The money it generates will be used to rebuild Main Street.