Congressman Sam Farr

sam_farr2With the elections finally over, what’s the aftermath for congress? What changes, improvements or dangers will we see to government and policy?
The end of the 2010 election cycle has delivered a shift of power in the House of Representatives that will unfortunately bring in a new wave of challenges and partisan agendas. In fact, the majority leadership has indicated that Republicans will seek to overturn some of the historic legislation passed by the 111th Congress, which today is expanding access to healthcare and helping families survive our country’s economic uncertainty.

But as is inherently the case, new challenges bring the possibility of new opportunities. I am committed to moving forward, and continuing to work aggressively for the Central Coast. However, we will all need to do so under an air of caution, because of the uncertainty of Republicans’ intentions to deal and work for progress.

Yet as things are changing in Washington, things have not fully changed for people across the country. Many people on the Central Coast, as do millions of Americans, continue to suffer from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. That means that despite which party is in the majority, we must continue to support Americans hurting to make ends meet—instead of arguing about our differences that ultimately slow our ability to move our country forward.

This week I am back working in Washington, and before the new congress take office, I am supporting legislation to help workers and seniors suffering from the lingering effects of the economic downturn.

The Seniors Protection Act—which I co-sponsored, will provide a one-time payment of $250 to about 54 million seniors and other affected federal beneficiaries, including 77,000 seniors on the Central Coast. In addition, I am supporting legislation to extend unemployment benefits to millions of unemployed workers still struggling to find a job.

These efforts will help protect our economy from moving backward and ensure we do not leave anyone behind during our recovery. But we cannot afford to go back to the ways of the past, and a Republican majority—focused on Bush-era economics—unfortunately will endanger the progress we have made for our economy and middle-class families.

The program that allows jobless Americans to apply for extended unemployment benefits expires on Nov. 30. Where do you stand on this—do you want the program extended?

The first extension of unemployment benefits for millions of American families proved to be a major boost to the economy, and a much-needed lifeline for Americans looking for work in a tough economy. As the end of that lifeline nears, and as the economy begins to slowly rebound, American workers continue to face lingering double-digit unemployment numbers in California and across the nation.

As a result, I support an extension of unemployment benefits and will work to pass an extension before the end of the year. The benefits that are due to expire at the end of the month have played a critical role in supporting folks that have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. These benefits have provided them with a helping hand while they are struggling to make ends meet and having to make unacceptable choices to cope.

Moreover, economists agree that extending unemployment benefits creates jobs and decreases the chances of the economy slipping away from a recovery. They inject demand into the economy, with every dollar in unemployment benefits creating at least $1.60 in economic activity—as stated by experts. Extending these benefits is one of the most cost-effective and fast-acting ways to stimulate the economy.

We simply cannot afford another lapse in extended benefits. Dating back to 1959, the government has never allowed extended unemployment benefits to expire when the national unemployment rate is still above 7.2 percent. We shouldn’t start now when the current rate stands at 9.6 percent.

For some Americans these benefits mean the difference between making rent and buying groceries—and that is simply too critical of an assistance to cut off. These are uncertain economic times, and while millions of Americans continue to hurt from the devastating economic effects, we must extend unemployment benefits to those in need.

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