We Need to Rescue U.S. Workers After Bailout09/28/2009
A year ago this week, then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson Jr. said the world's financial system was on the verge of collapse. Congress was given a $700 billion Wall Street bailout plan and told it was needed to avert catastrophe. There was great pressure to vote for the plan. But after studying the bill, I decided it was riddled with loopholes and there was no guarantee it would help middle-class Americans.
On Sept. 29, I voted against the bailout bill and it failed. Four days later, after much arm-twisting, the bailout passed. The bill had not improved, so I held firm and reluctantly voted against it again. I believed the bailout bill was the wrong thing to do then, and I am even more convinced of that today. Many of my worst fears about the bailout have unfortunately come to pass.
We still don't know what the banks have done with the billions they were given, executives at bailed-out firms have taken home huge paychecks, foreign banks received taxpayer money, and - most importantly - unemployment has skyrocketed. Last week, I called on the Treasury Department to end the bailout program and stop more taxpayer money from being misspent.
Incredibly, a year after Wall Street's meltdown, little has been done to reform the financial system. That must change. We cannot permit big financial institutions to continue to live by the slogan, "Heads we win, tails the taxpayers lose."
For now, the markets appear to have stabilized. But that is of little comfort to the thousands of Third District residents who are out of work or have seen their hours and wages cut. They are among the innocent victims of this recession, and just as they continue to fight for their share of the American Dream, I am fighting on their behalf and to make sure more Americans do not suffer their fate.
Creating jobs and putting people back to work must be our top priority. A so-called "jobless recovery" is no recovery at all.
So what can be done now? Among other things, I'm working to help the private sector create jobs; to put people to work building vital infrastructure; to make sure taxpayer dollars are spent here at home; to protect American manufacturing; and to stop unfair trade that hurts American workers.
Though the Administration wants to delay a new federal transportation bill for 18 months, I say we should pass a bill now because it would put people to work repairing our roads, bridges, and public transit system. In the last such bill, I brought home $126 million for Third District projects.
Since the recession started, America has lost 2 million manufacturing jobs. To reverse that trend, I've introduced a bipartisan bill to help restore the flow of credit to manufacturers, enabling them to save and create jobs. In addition, I'm sponsoring a bill to stop illegal currency manipulation by China and other nations that costs American jobs. And I recently led 28 members of the House of Representatives in telling President Obama that any climate change legislation must include vital protections for American manufacturers. I also continue to lead the fight for Buy American legislation so that our tax dollars help American workers.
Meanwhile, in order to help those who are struggling to find work, I voted last week to extend unemployment benefits. Right now there are six unemployed for every one job opening.
With unemployment expected to continue rising, we must do all this and much more to restore prosperity. As we move forward, I will be focused on rebuilding our economy on a solid foundation. We cannot afford to inflate yet another bubble that bursts and leaves hard-working Americans to suffer the consequences.
Write me at 6245 S. Archer Ave., Chicago, IL 60638, or call me at (312) 886-0481 or in Washington at (866) 822-5701. Visit www.lipinski.house.gov to sign up for my e-mail newsletter.