By Congressman José Serrano (D-NY)
This week our community was dealt yet another economic blow. National unemployment numbers were released and once again, the Latino unemployment rate is disproportionately higher than the national average.
And what is the solution? Well, just this week, Republicans proposed taking away unemployment assistance for workers, in exchange for personal reemployment accounts that could be as little as $500. And at the same time, they refused to extend unemployment insurance benefits for the 1.75 million Americans who have been looking for a job so long that they have exhausted regular cash payments. How do they expect our families to pay for rent, groceries and health care bills? Well, their answer is as good as just that HOW - a phony public relations scheme that stands for Hire Our Workers.
Our community has worked hard and deserves a chance at the American Dream, the same chance every other American deserves. Latinos have much to be proud of. There are 2.2 million Hispanic owned small businesses with revenues close to $200 billion dollars. Just last week press reports stated that Hispanic purchasing power reaches $700 billion and is projected to reach $1 trillion by 2010.
All of this hard work, however, is being ignored and stifled by economic policies that have resulted in the loss of more than half a million Hispanic jobs since President Bush took office. By favoring tax cuts for those who need them the least, by slashing funding for the Small Business Administration and by proposing to take away our worker’s overtime pay, the Republicans have shown where their true priorities are.
Democrats have a better way. Our economic plan would create 1 million jobs without adding a single penny to the deficit. We believe in providing tax relief for working class Americans and providing incentives so that every American has access to quality health care insurance. Democrats believe that by recognizing the contributions of the Hispanic community and providing the necessary tools to expand opportunities for all we will be able to improve the nation’s economy and the well being of all our families.
Latinos deserve more than just lip service. We deserve to be recognized and be rewarded for all the hard work we put in to provide for our families and to improve our communities. That is why Democrats have always worked on behalf of working families for economic policies that create jobs and that provide opportunities for all. So the next time that the Republicans ask HOW to improve our economy, we will tell them to stop working for the special interest and start looking out for hard working taxpayers.
Congressman Serrano is the ranking Democrat on the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State, Judiciary and Related Agencies of the House Appropriations Committee, and is Vice-Chair of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.