Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011 | 2 a.m.
Earlier this month, President Barack Obama sent to Congress the American Jobs Act, legislation that will cut taxes for Nevada’s middle class, help small businesses hire more workers, and put more teachers, first responders, construction workers, and veterans back to work. The recent announcement of Nevada’s unemployment numbers again rising last month and the fact that Nevada continues to suffer from the highest unemployment in the country mean that inaction is simply unacceptable.
The American Jobs Act will immediately get people back to work. As soon as Congress passes it, small businesses will be able to hire more employees and Nevada families will keep more of what they earn. Specifically, in Nevada 50,000 firms will receive a payroll tax cut under the legislation. The president’s plan will also cut taxes for middle-class families by cutting workers’ payroll taxes in half next year. A typical household in Nevada, with a median income of about $51,000, will receive a tax cut of about $1,580.
The president is proposing to invest $35 billion to prevent teacher layoffs, while supporting the hiring of tens of thousands more and keeping cops and firefighters on the job. The legislation will provide $258 million in funds to Nevada and municipal governments to prevent and reverse teacher and first-responder layoffs.
Under the American Jobs Act, Nevada could receive $585 million to revitalize and refurbish local communities, in addition to funds that would be available through a competitive application. This is part of a national effort to put construction workers on the job while rehabilitating and refurbishing hundreds of thousands of vacant and foreclosed homes and businesses.
Drawing on the ideas of Republicans and Democrats, the president is proposing the most sweeping reforms to the unemployment insurance system in 40 years. This could help put the 88,000 long-term unemployed workers in Nevada back to work. Alongside these reforms, the president is reiterating his call to extend unemployment insurance.
The extension of unemployment insurance will benefit 1.1 million Hispanics nationally and their families while providing targeted support for the long-term unemployed — including the nearly 1 million Hispanics who have been out of work for six months or more — find a job.
This is especially important for the Hispanic community since it will account for 65 percent of the U.S. population growth over the next 40 years. America’s economic success and the economic success of the middle class is largely dependent on Hispanics’ success. An estimated 25 million Hispanic workers will benefit from the extension of the payroll tax cut. By extending the payroll tax cut next year, the president’s plan will help increase the paychecks of 25 million Hispanic workers — providing them with more money to spend in their communities and support their families.
Besides creating jobs and helping to turn Nevada’s economy around, the American Jobs Act is fully paid for by ending taxpayer giveaways to big oil and tax breaks for corporations that ship American jobs overseas while asking the wealthiest of Americans to pay their fair share.
In contrast to President Obama’s comprehensive approach to cutting taxes for the middle class and small businesses while creating jobs right now, Washington Republicans have taken their eye off the ball and are focused not on job-creation but on killing Medicare by turning it over to private insurance companies to pay for taxpayer giveaways to the special interests that bankroll their campaigns.
Republicans in Washington and those running for president are rejecting bipartisanship and pretending that more handouts to big corporations and the wealthiest will grow the economy. The American people aren’t buying it. The Republican budget plan, in addition to killing Medicare, takes a meat ax to Social Security and destroys nearly a million American jobs, all while repealing the protections put in place to prevent another financial crisis.
Republicans should abandon their reckless agenda and reject the same failed policies that got us into this mess and join Democrats in passing this bill. The American Jobs Act is what the American people want: common sense, not controversy. Too many Nevadans have been out of work for too long for Washington politicians to waste time playing partisan games. Congress should pass this bill immediately.
Moises “Mo” Denis is a state senator and the assistant majority whip. He represents Clark County District 2.