June 08, 2010

Too many people in New Hampshire and across this country are still struggling, so I'd like to talk today about some of the provisions in the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010 that will create jobs, grow small businesses and help unemployed Americans who are struggling to get back to work.

Mr. President, we have been here before.  On March 10, 2010, almost three months ago, the Senate took up and passed a bill that contained most of the provisions we're considering today.

That day, the Senate voted with bipartisan support to stand with working families and extend the safety net legislation and investment incentives that are helping us get through and get out of this recession. 

Unfortunately, we have not yet been able to send this bill to President Obama for his signature, and for the last three months we've had almost weekly standoffs on temporary measures to do what we already voted to do in March - which is help people get back to work.  And this delay has had real consequences.  Over the last six months, the federal unemployment program has expired 4 times, most recently over Memorial Day.  The American people deserve better.

This legislation will create jobs, increase demand for goods and services and provide stability for Americans who have lost their jobs in this recession.  In addition to extending unemployment benefits through November, the bill also renews a tax credit to support research and development, waives the fees on business owners who take out Small Business Administration loans, helps municipalities make critical infrastructure improvements and funds a much-needed youth summer jobs program.

This legislation takes away the tax breaks that reward corporations for sending jobs overseas, and gives tax incentives to small businesses so they can create jobs here in the United States.

I know there are some people who think we've done all we should do, I also believe we must get back on the path to a balanced budget. But, the latest jobs report, from last Friday, showed that we still have a lot of ground to make up. During these very difficult economic times, it is necessary for the federal government to stimulate job creation through investments and tax cuts.

The national unemployment rate is still nearly 10% and in many communities it's much, much higher. 

What's more, nearly seven million people, nearly half of all Americans collecting unemployment benefits, have been out of work for six months or longer - and they've run out of the benefits provided by their state.  These are the workers collecting federal unemployment benefits, which they are using to pay the rent, make a mortgage payment, and buy the groceries and gas they need to go out and look for their next job.

This legislation extends this vital program until the end of November.

Another group of Americans who are also really hurting right now are teenagers, who have an unemployment rate that's more than double the national average.

Last week, I visited Nashua, NH and Dover High School, in Dover, NH, where I used to teach.  A lot of the students there were getting pretty excited for summer.

Many of these students want to work this summer. Many of them need to work to help save for college or to help their families.

Unfortunately, because of the recession, it is more difficult for a teenager to get a job today than it's been since the end of World War II. 

High unemployment has forced more adults to compete for every job and they're often filling jobs that were once reserved for young people. 

That's a problem for our young people and it's a threat to the future of our economy.

Last year the Congress stepped in and we created a summer jobs program that employed tens-of-thousands of teens nationally including over 500 in New Hampshire.  I got to meet two of those students last week.

Dawn White, who will be a senior at Dover High School this fall, spoke with me about her "life changing" summer job experience setting up exhibits at a local museum.  Dawn told me that having a summer job built her confidence and helped her identify a new goal for the future - to work with children.  Elizabeth Madol, a senior at Trinity High School in Manchester, worked at the Public Library, helping younger children with their summer reading and other activities.  Elizabeth told me that this had been her first job, and that because of it, she now has the skills and work experience she needs to get another job this year. 

Those are just two stories of hundreds in New Hampshire.  And all across the country, the results were phenomenal.  An independent study showed that young people were excited by the skills they gained and left better prepared to join the workforce.  They were exposed to new careers and opportunities.  They learned about responsibility and developed professional relationships.  Many even left with a job offer for when they graduate.

The legislation before us contains $1 billion to extend the summer jobs program for another year, creating tens of thousands of jobs, and giving hundreds more young people in New Hampshire the chance to work.

We can't build a 21st century economy unless we start building our young workforce.  We need workers with all types of skills and interests - and by giving teenagers a foot in the door today, they will give back to our economy in the future.  That's the power of what this program can do. 

Mr. President, this is a good bill that will make a real difference in our communities by creating jobs and helping struggling families.  It's an investment in our present and in our future.  I urge my colleagues to once again support American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act

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