One Pagers

One Hand Tied Behind Our Back

May 07, 2013 3:28 pm ET
Consistent with other reports warning that austerity is hindering the recovery, a new Brookings study shows that more than 2 million Americans might have jobs today if not for politicians pushing for cuts instead of jobs to keep our teachers and firefighters working instead of looking for work. Here's how to talk about it and the sequester in the context of last month's jobs report. (Also, scroll down for an Attack & Response on the House GOP's so-called "Working Families Flexibility Act.")

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Washington's self-inflicted jobs crisis is holding back an economy that's ready to move.

Connect: In this long and grueling recovery, our leaders should be doing everything they can to put Americans back to work so the economy can get back to full speed.

Contrast: Instead of hiring people to speed the recovery, Republicans in Congress are pushing to fire more teachers and firefighters -- demanding more of the austerity that has already cost us 2 million jobs.

Expose: These Republican lawmakers keep asking where the jobs are. Well, here they are -- taken away by a self-inflicted jobs crisis they wanted to pin on President Obama when they should have been helping America succeed.

Use analogy: Forcing European-style austerity on America -- like the 750,000 layoffs coming this year thanks to the sequester -- is making us climb out of the hole with one hand tied behind our back.

Lead: We could stop the sequester layoffs right now, but Republicans in Congress refuse to ask big corporations that offshore American jobs to pay even a dime more in taxes to pay for it.


HOUSE REPUBLICANS: "Our bill, the Working Families Flexibility Act, gives working moms comp time so they have the flexibility to spend time with their children."

  • Their Making Families Pay More proposal is a pay cut for families who can't afford it and more overtime hours for those who don't need them -- all disguised as a family-friendly policy from politicians who oppose actually family-friendly policies like paid family leave.
  • In reality, the GOP bill ends "time-and-a-half" overtime pay, forcing workers to take "comp time" at regular pay -- time that supposedly can be taken off later, but with the boss deciding when, if at all. That means employers can force people to work unreasonable hours without paying overtime.
  • If Republicans in Congress truly wanted to support working parents, they would support solutions like giving workers the right to earn paid sick days and the ability to request workplace flexibility without retaliation -- instead of recycling their old ideas to support their big corporate donors.


  • Following the positive April jobs report, our economy has now added private sector jobs every month for 38 straight months for a total of 6.8 million jobs created during that time period.
  • According to the new Brookings Institution report, austerity -- or spending cuts and layoffs of our teachers, firefighters, and cops -- has cost America over 2 million jobs:
    • In the 46 months following the end of the past five recessions, federal, state, and local governments hired an average of 1.7 million people.
    • During the current recovery, our government instead laid off more than half a million workers.
    • The total number of jobs lost is likely far greater because public sector cuts and layoffs mean fewer customers shopping in our stores and buying supplies, like police officer uniforms and books for our public schools. About 0.7 private sector jobs are lost when one public employee is laid off.
    • An extra 2.2 million jobs would mean the U.S. unemployment rate would be about 6.1% instead of 7.5%.
  • America is going to get more austerity in the form of the sequester cuts, which are expected to cost us 750,000 jobs this year alone.
  • A key rationale for austerity -- research by economists Reinhart-Rogoff that had suggested a tipping point debt-to-GDP ratio at which point high debt levels sharply hurt economic growth -- has been largely discredited.
  • Federal spending grew by 0.6% from 2009 to 2012 -- the slowest rate since the Eisenhower years. 
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Posted in - Budget - Taxes - Economy - Jobs

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