April 17, 2009

Perspective:

The First 100 Days:

Working For An American Recovery

By Congressman
Bob Filner

The end of President Obama’s first 100 days is time to take stock of the enormous progress we have made on jumpstarting the American economy and laying the foundation for prosperity for years to come.

Change has come to Washington with unprecedented speed since the election of Barack Obama and the 111th Congress. We have taken swift action in a New Direction to begin to get our economy on track and create and save jobs. But our challenges are, in many ways, unprecedented.

President Obama inherited a massive economic and budget mess from the Bush Administration. The last eight years have seen the slowest job creation in 75 years, with 4.4 million jobs lost in the last 14 months, and the longest recession since the Great Depression. Paychecks have remained flat in the face of rising prices. Millions of families are losing their homes because of irresponsible and predatory lending. The national debt has nearly doubled, with record $5.6 trillion surplus built under President Clinton turned into a record $5.8 trillion deficit under President Bush.

This economic crisis is impacting everyone. American families lost 18 percent of their net worth in 2008 alone, including home values and retirement savings. Businesses are having trouble getting loans because of the credit crunch, brought on by eight years of lax oversight and a failure to bring common-sense rules to Wall Street. Now 12 million Americans are unemployed and many families are facing extraordinarily difficult choices about health care, child care, education, and housing.

AMERICAN RECOVERY AND REINVESTMENT ACT

Just three weeks after President Obama’s inauguration, Congress enacted his historic economic recovery plan to create and save 3.5 million American jobs, including 396,000 here in California. It gives 95 percent of American workers, including 12,420,000 Californians – one of the fastest and broadest tax cuts in history – that is starting to show up in paychecks now.

This plan will begin to transform our economy for the 21st century and rebuild America with investments in roads, bridges, mass transit, flood control, clean water projects, and other essential infrastructure projects.

To lay the groundwork for long-term economic growth, the plan invests in clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency, science and innovation, and lowering health care costs and improving care with electronic medical records.

To make sure our children are able to compete in the world economy, it also streng-thens education from the preschool level to college.

Only by tackling these urgent national challenges, like our dependence on foreign oil and crippling health care costs, can we ensure that America’s recovery will bring sustained economic growth and widespread prosperity for generations to come.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s job-creating investments are starting to pay off – hatching entrepreneurial ideas for home weatherization and renewable energy companies, preventing the layoff of police officers and teachers, and repairing road and bridges.

To help ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and effectively, the Recovery Act also contains unprecedented accountability and transparency measures – no earmarks, new whistleblower protections, strong oversight, and a new www.recovery.gov website that, for the first time, allows Americans to track these investments online and contact elected officials about how it’s working.

STABILIZING THE HOUSING AND FINANCIAL SECTORS

President Obama has launched a comprehensive housing plan to help stem home foreclosures that have reduced home values for all. Progress is underway with a financial stability plan to get credit flowing to businesses and families with tough accountability and transparency. Congress will also take up new common-sense rules for our financial system, to keep the irresponsible actions of a few from jeopardizing American families and small businesses. In the coming weeks, we will also take up a Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights and new legislation to fight predatory and abusive lending practices.

A BLUEPRINT FOR THE FUTURE

Building on the new direction for the economy in our Recovery Act, the House and Senate have passed a five-year budget blueprint, reflecting the priorities of President Obama. The budget is a road map for all the work we do. It lays the foundation for lasting prosperity and economic growth for America’s workers and families. To begin to restore tax fairness, the budget cuts taxes for middle-income families by at least $1.5 trillion. To create jobs, the budget will make targeted investments and reforms in affordable health care, clean energy, and education.

This budget begins to restore fiscal responsibility – cutting the deficit by nearly two-thirds by 2013 – making serious progress after years of reckless economic policies. The budget reduces non-defense discretionary spending to its lowest level as a percent of the economy in nearly half a century and – in Fiscal Year 2010 – by 1.5 percent below the President’s budget blueprint.

It took years to get into this mess, and it will take time to get our country back on track, but the American people have always risen to the challenge in times of crisis. This Congress and President Obama plan to tackle historic reforms to make health care more affordable, to create millions of jobs in a clean, renewable energy market, and to make education more competitive for a 21st century economy.

Ultimately, our work will be measured by results. But at the 100-day mark, President Oba-ma and the 111th Congress are beginning to move America in a New Direction.

As your federal representative in Washington, I welcome your input. Please do not hesitate to contact me through my District Office at (619) 422-5963. Thank you for all the good work you do!

Congressman Bob Filner representative for California’s 51st Congressional District

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