Community organizing groups say Obama must demand jobs programs
and new progressive revenue sources
New York, NY- Community organizing groups working under the umbrella of the New Deal for New York coalition released the following statements regarding President Barack Obama’s expected address before a joint session of Congress tonight. The groups have been aggressively pushing for job creation in New York State’s low-income communities and against Governor Andrew Cuomo’s effort to issue a billion dollar tax cut for the state’s millionaires on December 31, 2011.
According to advance reports, the president will promote a payroll tax cut for individuals and, perhaps, businesses. The president, New Deal groups stressed, needs to look beyond this singular approach and broaden his demands to include an increase in public revenues through progressive sources, such as a high-end income tax surcharge — or at least ending the Bush Tax Cuts — and closing corporate loopholes or creating a financial speculation tax, such as the one already successfully in place in England and which is gaining traction throughout Europe. Public works programs, of which dozens have been designed in recent years, should be adopted and immediately set into motion.
In short, the president must fight hard for all of our communities, including low-income communities, and not settle once again for the lowest common denominator presented to him by Congressional Republicans, the groups said.
Valerie Pearson, Board Member of Community Voices Heard and Yonkers Resident, said:
“Obama had the right idea back in 2009 when he put $5 billion into the TANF (welfare) Emergency Contingency Fund. Over 260,000 jobs were created for low-income adults and youth across the country – over 4,000 of which were in New York State. We don’t need more tax cuts right now; we need real jobs. The President should propose putting more money for subsidized jobs into this Fund that would put people to work, and keep our parks clean, rebuild our crumbling housing, weatherize our buildings, expand our public transit systems, take care of our youth. It would create jobs that make us feel good about ourselves and our country.”
Rev. David Wm. Crapnell, President of Niagara Organizing Alliance for Hope, said:
“In a time when the unemployment rate has risen to such a staggering figure, it is essential for private developers be held accountable and brought to the table with public officials and community members to stimulate responsible development, and bring jobs to our communities. In Niagara Falls, we are home to one of the largest unemployment rates in the state. We are also home to 85 acres of vacant land in the center of downtown, owned by one the richest men in the state- Howard Milstein. As Milstein has developed a close relationship with our Governor, we expect that Governor Cuomo will work to spur the development Milstein promised us 12 years ago. It is up to us, and other communities alike, to demand private sector cooperation in order to breakdown the income gap and stimulate job creation.”
Eric Walker, Lead Organizer, People United for Sustainable Housing in Buffalo, said:
“As the economy continues to struggle, we’ve seen folks who continue to struggle to find work and stay in their homes while millionaires and billionaires continue to make money hand over fist. Millions of families are grappling with a housing and energy crisis that could be part of a national strategy toward job creation, energy security, and economic growth. We need visionary ideas and accountable solutions focused on making sure people get back to work in good jobs that people can raise a family on. A national initiative to scale up the residential energy efficiency sector could be the opportunity to to bring up to 2 million jobs to families looking to enter the workforce, end corporate profiteering from high high energy burdens, and create a sustainable and equitable future for working families across the country.”
Eddie H. Brown, Chairperson of Syracuse United Neighbors, said:
“A city like Syracuse would benefit from federal spending to help recover from the crash of the housing market and deal with the large number of vacant houses that resulted from the games played by the big banks and Wall Street investors. President Obama should invest in programs like deconstruction, training residents for jobs to salvage the valuable materials from abandoned houses.”
Michael Caesar, a VOCAL-NY leader, said:
“We’re in a jobs crisis, but the current proposals on the table are the equivalent of putting a Band Aid on a bullet wound. For the past eight months, the biggest challenge in my life has been getting a job. Every application I fill out just makes me more desperate. Â It’s bad everywhere, but the jobs crisis is even worse when it comes to Blacks and Latinos and people with a criminal record because of discrimination in the job market. Â Proposals to increase funding for infrastructure projects and weatherization hold some promise for people like me, but only if the programs are targeted and on a much larger scale.”
Duane Diggs, President of VOICE-Buffalo, said:
“We need to take a bold position to invest in our communities through creative job creation programs and transportation infrastructure, in particular Public Transportation. Considering the world today, and the energy crisis, Public Transportation is an invaluable investment.”
Each organizational leader listed above is available to speak with the press.