On Thursday, August 25, from 6:00 – 8:00 pm, Politic365 will host a virtual town hall with Congressman James E. Clyburn, D-SC, Assistant Democratic Leader for the U.S. House of Representatives.
In preparation for the event, Congressman Clyburn spoke with Politic365 about ways to get the American economy back on track. He ascribes to a three-point philosophy: first, he says, “we have to look at where cuts can be made in the overall bureaucracy; [second], we need to look at ways to raise revenues in order to close the deficit and pay down our debt; and finally, we have to focus on job creation over the long and short term.”
According to the congressman, between forty and fifty job creating proposals have been put on the table over the past several months. However, many of those proposals have been “bottled up” because Republicans are singularly focused on limiting President Obama to one-term.
“There are a lot of creative things that have been proposed,” Clyburn said, “but the leadership in the House seems not to want anything to take place simply because they’ve calculated that the extent to which they can keep anything from happening, the better their chances are of defeating President Obama.”
One such proposal that has yet to see the light of day is H.R. 4785, the Rural Energy Savings Program Act, co-sponsored by Congressman Clyburn and Congressman Ed Whitfield, R-KY. This bi-partisan effort, which was accompanied by a companion bill in the Senate, S.3102, sponsored by Senator Lindsey Graham, R-SC, and Senator Jeff Merkley, D-OR, is almost revenue neutral and creates jobs by initiating a program for retrofitting homes in rural communities. The program would be managed by co-opts that would administer monies guaranteed by the federal government, and requires that supplies and labor for implementing the program be local. The program is proposed for a 10 year implementation period, and because budgets are done on a 10-year cycle, there would be virtually no cost to the government.
RuralStar, as it’s called for short, provides for the installation of energy efficient heating and air systems, storm windows, new electrical wiring, and carpentry, roofing and brick work aimed at making homes more energy efficient. Not only would it help improve energy performance and reduce costs to consumers, but it “will put people back to work on main street in rural communities through out the country,” according to Congressman Clyburn.
A corollary program for urban areas – HomeStar – would provide the same kinds of benefits to communities in need.
While Congressman Clyburn cited the need for creative and innovative new job proposals, he candidly admitted that most discussion on technology have virtually stalled in Congress, even though the country is rapidly transitioning toward becoming a more digitally-based, globalized economy.
Congress authorized the investment of $7 billion in broadband deployment and adoption efforts through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and included similar provisions in the Affordable Care Act focused on mHealth and telemedicine. Despite initial traction, however, between the ostensible disenchantment among many Americans regarding the stimulus acts and the focus of Republicans in the House on just saying no to any proposals on the table, additional efforts in this space are not getting much action.
“So much of what’s taking place today in the job creation arena is out of the hands of my constituents…and out of my hands as well,” said the senior statesman from South Carolina.
“Until such time as we can get a handle on this whole debt/deficit issue, that will allow the voting public to feel some more confidence in what we’re doing, it’s going to be tough because the wait for long-term [job solutions] is not a comfortable thing for so many families.”
As the congressman aptly noted, “if you’ve got 6 million people actively looking for work, they want a job tomorrow morning. And to lay out these long range plans as to what a tax credit will mean to a company and the job that may be created from that eighteen months from now is not going to get it.”
Instead, we need programs like the Rural Energy Savings Program which could, “immediately instill confidence in the people that need to have their purchase power in hand in order to create the growth,” Clyburn insists.
“That way, things will bubble up. This whole trickle down thing won’t work, alone. It may trickle down in 18 months, but you can get things bubbling up in eight weeks.”
Congressman Clyburn will discuss jobs and the economy, along with issues related to the deficit and debt ceiling during Thursday’s event. To join in the discussion, participants can call toll free, 1-800-868-1837 and enter participant code 955977#.