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January 29, 2015

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Aiding the economy

Report shows the Recovery Act is working, but more needs to be done

A report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released last week says the Recovery Act has had a significant effect on the economy, including lowering unemployment and increasing the nation’s gross domestic product.

The CBO said the act, which has been much maligned by the right wing, has helped the economy every quarter since it took effect, and analysts expects that trend to continue. For the first quarter of this year, the CBO said the act’s policies have:

-- Raised the GDP by up to 4.2 percent;

-- Lowered the unemployment rate by up to 1.5 percentage points; and

-- Increased the number of full-time equivalent jobs by up to 4.1 million.

Democratic Rep. George Miller of California, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, said the report makes it “clear that the Recovery Act was the right decision.”

“Before this Congress and President Obama took decisive action, our nation was losing more than 750,000 jobs a month,” he said. “It is clear that without the Recovery Act, our nation would be still dealing with an economic catastrophe caused by the financial scandals.”

Miller said more should be done to continue spurring the economy forward, and he is correct. Unemployment, at 9.9 percent nationally and 13.7 percent in Nevada, is still too high. The Commerce Department reported last week that consumer spending was stagnant in April.

Congress continues to work to find ways to stimulate the economy and help people who have been hurt, but Republicans and some Democrats have tried to stop or slow those efforts. Conservatives have tried to paint stimulus spending as wasteful and ineffective, and that has slowed progress.

On Friday, the House narrowly passed a bill that extends benefits to unemployed workers and provides a series of tax cuts to stimulate the economy. The legislation was scaled down because of complaints about spending, no matter what the CBO report showed.

It is a shame that some members of Congress don’t see the facts. As the CBO report shows, without the Recovery Act, the nation would have been more deeply mired in the economic downturn — but the nation still needs more help. Yet some members of Congress don’t get that.

Republicans in the Senate, for example, tried last week to siphon off stimulus money to go toward immigration enforcement — instead of creating jobs. Thankfully, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., was able to work to kill that plan.

Reid has been diligent in his efforts to improve the economy, for Nevada as well as the nation. For example, last week he led the Senate in passing an appropriations bill that includes funding to help Nevada, and he introduced legislation aimed at spurring the creation of renewable energy jobs here.

The nation needs more of that kind of thinking because we are not out of the economic woods yet. Hopefully, enough members of Congress will see that Americans are still suffering and will take action to do something about it.

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