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Recovery package will help stabilize economy

The recovery package just passed by Congress does five things that set our nation up for recovery in the short-term and vitality in the long-term.
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Salem Statesman Journal

February 23,2009

The recovery package just passed by Congress does five things that set our nation up for recovery in the short-term and vitality in the long-term.

First, it creates and retains millions of jobs, including 44,000 jobs in Oregon. The American economy lost nearly 600,000 jobs in January alone. That works out to almost 20,000 jobs lost each day.

Faced with these facts, job creation and retention is critically important, and this package will deliver. It creates construction jobs with ambitious investments in infrastructure, it creates jobs in green industries by investing in renewable energy and it saves thousands of Americans from joining the unemployment lines.

Second, the recovery package is a lifeline to those who have lost their jobs. Fortunately, the greatest country in the world has some social support systems in place so people don't go destitute just because they lost their job. This package makes sure that food stamps are available for all who need them, especially children. It pays the bulk of your medical insurance premium for you to continue to get health care if you have been laid off. And it extends and increases unemployment benefits while our country struggles to get back on its feet.

Third, it gives aid to our states whose budgets are in danger. Ninety-five percent of your state resources go to your children's education, your grandparent's and neighbor's health care and to keep you safe in your home town. We must not see school days shortened, seniors forced out of assisted living centers or reductions in state police coverage.

Federal aid to our states will also save thousands of jobs. As income revenues dry up, Oregon is planning to cut the K-12 budget by over $300 million and our health care system is in danger of imploding. If the men and women in these arenas are thrown out of work, our economic woes will be compounded. Many local communities, where schools and hospitals are often the largest employers, would be devastated.

Fourth, the recovery package provides targeted tax cuts, credits and rebates for businesses and individuals. The package is estimated to create $21 billion in new investments and lending for American small businesses alone. Ninety-five percent of Oregonians will see some tax relief to help them weather these difficult times and keep food on the table.

Fifth, it positions our country to retool and compete in the 21st century. This is more than roads, bridges, transit, rail, ports and airports. It is about encouraging research in our universities and private enterprise and about rebuilding our universities and public buildings so they are less expensive to maintain. This package is about positioning America in the global climate change economy that is coming, about making strides in energy independence and creating a sustainable energy grid.

Is this package perfect? No. However, with thousands of jobs lost each day, the price of inaction is too high. The recovery package passed this month will help stabilize our economy and put us on the road to recovery with an eye toward coming out of this recession stronger than we entered.

Rep. Kurt Schrader represents Oregon's 5th Congressional District. He can be reached through his Web site at www.schrader.house.gov.