I have been working since the 2008 economic meltdown to help create new jobs and get our economy back on track.
When President Obama took office, he inherited two costly wars, a $10 Trillion national debt, and an economy in free-fall.
This was the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression. Without the action we took, it could well have been worse than the Great Depression.
This economic catastrophe didn’t develop overnight, and it couldn’t be fixed overnight, either. Most economists agree that our economy has been in trouble since August 2007 - and that the recession we're still trying to recover from began in December of 2007. Since that time, millions of Americans have lost their jobs, their homes, or much of their retirement savings – and in the worst cases, all three. Many have had to accept lower pay, take second jobs, or put off retirement. Millions more have been worried about losing their jobs and holding on to their homes. 15 Million home-owners are “underwater” – they owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth.
In 2009, I worked with a majority of my colleagues in Congress to enact legislation to prevent another Great Depression and put people back to work. Congress passed - and the President signed - the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009, We subsequently enacted temporary income- and payroll-tax cuts to help struggling families and small businesses. We extended emergency unemployment benefits. We kept the US auto industry alive and helped it get back on its feet. And we created tax breaks for businesses that hired new workers. I believe that we succeeded in preventing an even more massive catastrophe and in reversing the economy’s decline. Many respected economists agree.
Since then, we've experienced slow growth, held back by continuing domestic problems like the foreclosure crisis and by international events like the Japanese tsunami and the European debt crisis. More than 2 straight years of positive private sector job creation have been partially offset by the firing of close to a million public employees -- many of them police, teachers, and firefighters.
While the economy has been growing for the last few years, it's been growing slowly. There hasn't been enough growth to create a lot of new jobs. Too many Americans are still out of work. The federal government should have been investing more money in research and infrastructure projects that would have created jobs in the short run and promoted faster economic growth in the long run. Unfortunately, for the last 4 years, Republicans in Congress have actively worked to kill legislation that would have put more Americans back to work, modernized our nation's crumbling infrastructure, or developed new technoloogy that could drive future economic growth.
I believe that more needs to be done if we want to get the economy growing faster and create millions of new jobs. That’s why I’m working hard to enact legislation to create new jobs and promote economic growth in southwestern Pennsylvania – as I’ve been doing since my service in Congress began. (Back then, our region was suffering through the collapse of the steel industry).
I've consistently called for increasing the amount of money we spend on construction and repair projects for our nation's highways, bridges, schools, transit systems, locks and dams, airways, and water and sewer systems. The outdated infrastructure we have today actually hinders economic growth. I've also consistently supported increased federal funding for research on new energy technology, health care, and other growing sectors of our economy. These kinds of investments put people back to work, but they also increase economic growth in the future. If we don't get the economy growing rapidly again, no conceivable amount of spending cuts will reduce the federal budget deficit. That's why creating jobs and encouraging economic growth is more important at this point in time than reducing our deficits.
Consequently, my top priority during negotiations over how to address the "fiscal cliff" will be protecting working- and middle-class families from tax increases and cuts in the federal programs that help millions of Americans.