With the economy struggling, the markets extremely volatile and the debt limit debate still stinging, U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) was aiming to put a focus back on job creation last week. But her $227 billion proposal will face stiff opposition, even her most ardent of supporters concede.
At a North Side school in Chicago Aug. 10, Schakowsky said she will be introducing a plan when Congress returns from its recess in September that she estimates will create as many 2.2 million jobs in this era of above 9 percent unemployment rates.
“Because the American people, 2 to 1 [ratio], believe the real issue is jobs, I am relying on the voice of the American people to make the difference and to make this legislation a reality,” Schakowsky said to a cheering throng of supporters.
Specifically, her legislation calls for the creation of “emergency” jobs by putting people to work in schools, parks, a student job corps, health care as well as new teachers, policemen and firefighters.
Schakowsky does not have a funding component for the proposal, but said the $227 billion legislation could be fully paid for over two years by creating higher tax brackets for millionaire and billionaires and eliminating certain tax loopholes and subsidies.
“The job creators are not the big companies sitting on $2 trillion and not creating any jobs right now because there is no demand,” Schakowsky said. “What this bill does--and it is not the total answer-- is to put 2 million people to work.”
Ina Allen, a music teacher at the Chute School in Evanston, represented the Illinois Education Association at the rally. “This legislation will help steer our economy back to fiscal strength and restore the American Dream for struggling working families,” she said.
“The United States needs vision and a pathway to assure us that we will reach full employment and prosperity,” said Skokie Mayor George Van Dusen. “This bill helps us accomplish that goal.”
Not surprisingly, the GOP did not take well to the proposal.
“It shows to me how completely tone deaf Jan Schakowsky is,” said Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady. “It also makes me think she does not know about basic economics. Government does not create jobs.
"This is just one of her many redistribution schemes," he added. "It didn’t work when they spent $862 billion on the stimulus. It is amazing to me with what everything that has occurred in the past year, she would come out with something like this. It makes no sense on a variety of different levels.”
No one doubts Schakowsky is going to have a very difficult time getting such a proposal through the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, especially after the passionate and partisan weekslong debate over increasing of the debt ceiling past its $14 trillion level.
But Schakowsky, who has served the 9th District since 1999, remained hopeful.
“I believe some [of my colleagues] would like to do the right thing and are being held hostage by a minority of people called the Tea Partyers in the Congress,” she said.
Van Dusen, who served as a top aide to Schakowsky’s predecessor Sidney Yates, realized that passage of the jobs legislation will be difficult in today’s political climate.
“It’s going to be a tough road,” he said. “But we have to make sure that jobs are part of the conversation.”
The lack of specifics regarding funding concerned Skokie resident Roy Chavadiyil, the chief steward of Local 73 of the Service Employees International Union.
“Where is the funding going to come from? She didn’t give a definitive answer,” Chavadiyil said. “That might be a problem if we don’t show the right funding source.
"We have to create jobs, there is no question. If we don’t create jobs, we are going to fall into debt even more," the union leader said. "Where the funding is going to come from is going to be a problem for passing it in Congress.”