Under Secretary of Commerce For International Trade Francisco SÁnchez
"How the American Jobs Act Puts People Back to Work"
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
As prepared for delivery
Good morning and thank you all for that generous reception.
At the outset, I want to thank Pedro Cevallos-Candau and Primera for hosting us today.
Let me also thank Jesse Ruiz, the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Hispanic American Construction Industry Association — all of whom helped put this event together.
And, of course, my thanks to all of you for joining us this morning.
It’s a pleasure to be here in Chicago, especially at such an exciting time in the City’s history.
Your new Mayor — Rahm Emanuel — is off to a great start. Last weekend, the Bears started their season with an impressive victory. Then you have the Cubs.
Well, I guess that’s where the excitement ends.
It’s okay. I know what you feel like. I’m from Tampa, and the Devil Rays are going to miss the playoffs as well — so we share a common pain. But, that’s not all we share.
Despite our diversity of interests and backgrounds, all of us in this room share a love for this country. We share a commitment to community. We share a belief in the work ethic of the American worker and in the ingenuity of the American business owner.
And, we believe that the future should be full of opportunity for all — not just some.
This was reaffirmed earlier today when — as part of a White House Business Council Roundtable — I met with a group of local leaders to exchange thoughts about the challenges we face. It was powerful conversation.
Call me old fashion. I know we’re in an age of texting and tweeting. But, I still believe that the most effective way to make progress is to bring people together in a room — face-to-face — to share ideas.
President Obama and the Administration want to hear from you — your concerns, your ideas and how you think we can help. No spin. No talking points. That’s why it’s always great to be out of Washington.
Inside DC, you hear a lot about polls and politics. Outside DC, the focus is where it should be — people. And, right now, the main concern of the American people is jobs.
It’s been an especially painful time for the Latino community. The Latino unemployment rate (11.3%) remains far higher than the national rate. And, the recession has taken a big toll on our community.
Pew recently found that — from 2005 to 2009 — the median net worth of Latino households fell 66 percent — the most of any group.
But, you and I didn’t need a report to understand the challenges facing the Latino community, and Americans of all backgrounds. We see them every day. We hear about them from our families and friends.
President Obama hears about them too, and — since his first day in office — has worked to address these challenges. We all remember how the collapse of the financial system pushed our economy to the brink of a second Great Depression.
In response to the crisis, the President took bold steps to stabilize the financial system, to keep the American auto industry from going bankrupt, to pass along a tax cut for middle-class families, and to help cities and states so that teachers and policemen could keep their jobs.
He stopped the free fall. As a result, we’ve come a long way. More than 2.4 million jobs have been created in the last year and a half. We’re seeing a comeback in manufacturing … and new strength in the clean energy sector. And, consumer spending is starting to rise.
But, there is more work to do which is why —yesterday — President Obama sent The American Jobs Act to Congress. I met with the President and his economic team at the White House last week, and I can tell you that this bill will make a real difference in getting people back to work.
In the days since the President announced the plan, there have been a lot of different people making a lot of different claims about The American Jobs Act. In fact, some were complaining about it before they’d even seen it.
So, let’s lay out some facts.
If passed, this bill would create jobs — anywhere from 1.5 to nearly 2 million of them, according to independent economic estimates. This isn’t just a statistic. We are talking about our friends, neighbors and family members — put to work in American businesses, large and small.
If I were to leave you with three thoughts, it would be that:
One, every single element of this plan has been supported by members of both parties in the past, and it won’t add a nickel to the deficit.
Two, it would have a tangible impact — right now.
And three, we’re asking Congress to pass it —right now.
Americans are looking for work. And I can tell you that this plan works for the American people. It will invest in America’s most important resources — its people and its communities.
For example, it will invest $50 billion in our nation’s infrastructure.
This leads to hundreds of thousands of jobs — jobs rebuilding roads, jobs rebuilding bridges, jobs rebuilding transit and rail systems.
Of this, nearly $1.6 billion will go into Illinois infrastructure projects, supporting nearly 21,000 jobs. That’s why Congress must pass this bill.
The President’s plan would also invest $35 billion dollars to prevent the layoffs of nearly 300,000 teachers and support the hiring of tens of thousands firefighters and cops.
Of this, more than $1.2 billion would go to Illinois, supporting nearly 15,000 jobs. That’s why it’s time to pass this bill.
The American Jobs Act will also invest $25 billion dollars to modernize schools so our kids don’t have to prepare for the 21st century world in a 20th century classroom.
Nationwide, 35,000 schools will benefit. And, Illinois will receive more than $1.1 billion in funding to support nearly 15,000 jobs. If you want better schools and more jobs, then you agree that it’s time to pass this bill.
In addition to these investments, the American Jobs Act would provide much needed relief to struggling Americans. President Obama correctly recognizes that the privileged have gotten a lot of breaks, and it’s time that the rest of America gets a break as well.
Some quick examples:
- The President wants to extend unemployment insurance, preventing more than 100,000 people here in Illinois from losing their benefits in the first 6 weeks;
- The American Jobs Act would also create a Pathways to Work Fund; right now, there are many who have no job, no hope and no opportunities available to them. This Fund would provide them with the training needed to get into the workforce, placing nearly 6000 adults and 20,000 youth in jobs in your state;
- And, he wants to expand the tax cuts passed last December by cutting workers payroll taxes in half next year. So, if you are a family here in Illinois — making $53,000 a year — you will receive a tax cut of over $1600.
People are hurting. They need relief. These measures give them an opportunity to build a better tomorrow, and get back on track. And, what does the American Jobs Act mean specifically for the Latino community?
If passed today:
- 25 million Hispanic workers will benefit from the extension of the payroll tax cut;
- 1.1 million Hispanics and their families will benefit from the extension of unemployment insurance; and
- 250,000 Hispanic-owned small businesses will receive tax cut benefits.
And, those are just a few of the outcomes. So, a lot of good would happen.
Look, we in the Administration know that the American recovery will ultimately be powered by the private sector. What the American Jobs Act does is give that private sector a lift.
We know many Chicago families have already made major sacrifices. It’s important that Congress pass the bipartisan measures in the President’s plan so that they don’t have to make more.
In addition — in the long run — we have to get our debt under control. That’s an important policy objective, one the President will address next Monday. But our federal spending problems will be best solved by strong economic growth, which means we need to take decisive action.
As part of this action, Congress can pass the pending trade deals with Korea, Colombia and Panama. As the President said, if Americans can buy Kias and Hyundais, we should see people in South Korea driving Fords, Chevys and Chyslers.
We’ve got to have more products around the world that say “Made in America.”
As the head of the International Trade Administration, I want to be clear — increased exports would lead to jobs for American workers and increased opportunities for entrepreneurs.
Every billion dollars in exports supports more than 5000 jobs.
And, these days — in order for a business to achieve its full potential — it’s no longer enough to target markets across town or across the state. You’ve got to access markets across borders and overseas. 95% of the world’s customers live outside of the United States.
The global economy is changing the way the world does business.
The question before us is do we embrace the change by looking outward and seize these new opportunities? Or, do we look inward, and shy away from these opportunities because we are afraid to change?
I know your answer. The people of Chicago aren’t afraid to embrace the future. This City is home to some of our nation’s most innovative entrepreneurs.
So, I urge you to make your voice heard, and let Congress know that you want these trade deals passed because you want more customers, so you can grow your businesses, hire more workers and build your local economies.
We cannot wait any longer. The time for action is now. People have the right to expect a little bit of help from their government. They should be able to expect Congress to put them first. They ought to be able to count on someone betting on them.
And that’s ultimately what everything I’ve described is – a bet on the drive and innovation of the American people. We know government can’t solve all the problems facing our country.
What we can do is help lay a foundation for growth, and create smart incentives for businesses in Chicago — and around America — to build something special on top of that foundation.
It’s time for both parties in Congress to come together to support these bipartisan proposals. It’s time for everyone to work together and put their country first.
The American Jobs Act would put up to 2 million people to work now. It would put more money in the pockets of workers now. It would repair infrastructure vital to American competiveness now.
So Congress should pass it now.
It’s how we help create more jobs for Americans. It’s how we help business grow. It’s how we ensure that American workers and American communities compete and win in the global economy.
These days, we hear a lot of talk about the next election.
But, people are more concerned about their next meal, their next mortgage payment and their next electricity bill. They can’t wait 14 months till the next election. They need solutions now.
That’s what makes meetings like this so important — together we can urge Congress to take action now. The time has come for people to come before politics … for Congress to choose more jobs instead of more of the status quo.
They need to pass the American Jobs Act. Now.
Thank you all for coming. Let’s enjoy today, and seize this opportunity to form new partnerships for progress.
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