Congresswoman Kaptur, appearing on C-SPAN’s acclaimed “Washington Journal,” urged Congress to approve an extension of unemployment benefits for two million jobless Americans. Extended jobless benefits expired on Nov. 30, which will ultimately affect 108,000 Ohioans unless Congress acts.I want to apologize to the millions of Americans who are affected by this,” she said. If Republicans prevail on extending the Bush tax breaks for the richest Americans, she said, “fifty times more will be spent on extending tax benefits to the wealthy than taking care of the people who are trying to hold house and home together at the local level in a down economy. Again, Congress appears and in fact does reward those at the very high end.”
Congresswoman Kaptur called for creation of a jobs commission in addition to the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. “We focus on the deficit,” she said, “but we don’t focus on how to make the economy grow. The focus is in the wrong place. We have deficits because the economy has not been growing for over a decade at the rate that it needs to in order to produce the jobs so people can go to work and help pay the way of the Republic. We have the telescope turned around in the wrong direction. We should be talking about how to make the economy grow.”
Congresswoman Kaptur also said:
• Tax benefits to corporations should be conditioned on keeping jobs in the United States. She pointed to a tax compromise proposal that she made with Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) to extend the tax cuts for small businesses that might be subject to the top two tax brackets if they certify that they are manufacturing in the U.S., hiring only American citizens, and generally buying domestic content goods and materials.
• “We need a timeout on trade agreements and we need to renegotiate” agreements such as NAFTA. She said trade agreements should prohibit partner countries from using environmental and labor laws for competitive advantage. She said the nation’s deficit, which will exceed $400 billion this year, is quashing domestic growth. “NAFTA is a framework that doesn’t work for us as a country. Certain industries benefit, but if you look at the trade deficit that our nation has accumulated since NAFTA’s passage in 1993, it’s over a trillion dollars in the red…Our ability to grow is severely hampered by this inundation of imports from very low-wage, undemocratic places.” She again called for a bipartisan coalition that includes freshman Republicans in the House to change the framework of the proposed U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement.
• “Everything should be on the table” as congressional leaders and the administration search for possible budget cuts.
• “Our Republic is at risk because of what is happening with unlimited amounts of money being put into campaigns…The most important action Congress could take would be to reform campaign finance.”
• The 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which separated commercial banking from investment banking for 66 years, created “a great moral hazard into our banking system and we are still suffering from that.”