September 30, 2011
Conference President Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa led a strong delegation of our mayors to Capitol Hill last week, all pushing the House and Senate to act on job creation legislation.
At issue is President Obama's jobs legislation The American Jobs Act, and Mayor Villaraigosa led our mayors to the White House to meet with National Economic Council Director Gene†Sperling†and Senior Advisor to President Obama David Plouffe.
In the White House and House and Senate meetings, mayors continued to pound away trying to convince Washington, the Democratic White House, the Democratic Senate, and the Republican House that they need to stop the political games and get their acts together to help the nation's mayors find jobs for the millions that live in our cities without any kind of job.
The clock ticks away with us headed to a deadline that will trigger a sequestration with massive cuts in domestic and defence spending if Congress doesn't come together with a rational plan to meet the unemployment crisis that mayors face every day.
President Obama's jobs plan overall is good for our mayors and cities, and we thank him and his staff for responding to President Villaraigosa who announced our Common Sense Jobs Agenda before President Obama announced his jobs plan to the nation before Congress on September 8.
President Obama's plan is being tossed about with no specific strategic Congressional schedule announced. Even the Democratic Senate is divided, and some Senators are saying that the Obama plan must be divided up with separate votes on different issues. Senate Majority Leader Reid, most favorable to us, also indicated in our meeting that the President's plan probably will not go forward with an up or down vote.
While the President's plan is very much visible in the political atmosphere of the pre-2012 Presidential election seasons, Congress continues to work on basic appropriations for our key priorities. No federal funding stream is more important to us than CDBG (The Community Development Block Grant) funds. Through the past few months, mayors have been most vocal to the Administration and Democratic and Republican Leaders in Congress resisting those that would cut or be ambivalent about the CDBG program. This past week, Democrats recommended deeper cuts in our CDBG program than the Republican members. The House Republicans proposed $3.5 billion for CDBG; The Senate Democrats proposed $2.85 billion.
Underlying Washington's action today is a central question of what is political action and what is legislative action? What is real movement to providing the meaningful solution to finding jobs for Americans and what is political grandstanding which results in gridlock and no action?
As President Villaraigosa continues to say to everyone who will listen, this Washington political atmosphere is the most partisan ever. Former President Clinton chimed in last week agreeing with Mayor Villaraigosa, saying it's more partisan now than it was when he was here - and that's saying a lot.
Mayor Villaraigosa is asking all of our mayors to sign a pledge of action to do everything we can over the next few months to get Washington off the political posturing toward legislative action for job creation for the nation. Mayor Villaraigosa sent his request out to you on September 28, attaching a tool kit that may be used as well as talking points to help us persuade Congress to act. President Villaraigosa needs you to help now more than ever.
It's a tough time for all of us, but we know mayors can make a difference with their Senators and Congressmen, and I urge all of you to please follow through on President Villaraigosa's request. We are the bipartisan political force in the nation that will be heard if we are strong and determined with our Senators and House Members. Let's work hard between now and Christmas. We need your help. We need your voice and your action. As we go forward, if I can be of any assistance and if you have thoughts about what we should be doing or should not be doing, please let me know. Our Leadership Meeting last week gave all renewed energy. Let's keep it going. Your voice, your action will be the difference for our people and our cities.