Skelton says Missouri’s Fourth District benefits from recovery funding effort
By: U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton
Congressman Ike Skelton
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Aug. 16, 2009) — More than two years ago, America was on the brink of an unusually severe economic downturn. In the months that followed, the subprime housing crisis, which left many families across the country in foreclosure, was trickling into other areas of our nation’s vast economy at an alarming rate. The economy was losing, on average, 700,000 jobs a month. At the same time, consumer confidence and spending was falling, costs associated with food, health care, and college were rising, and banks were clamping down on lending.
In light of the economic crisis, Congress and the President had an obligation to enact policies that would get our economy moving again, and we have worked to do that since the beginning of the recession. Inaction on our part would have made the situation far more dire for farmers, small business owners, and families and would have undercut America’s military and national security, making it far more difficult to properly address international challenges. The largest economic recovery effort occurred when Congress approved H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, on Feb. 13. On Feb. 17, the President signed the bill into law. The Recovery Act is a comprehensive stimulus plan that includes both tax cuts and spending stimulus and is designed to reduce the length and severity of the recession and its impact on the American people and our national security.
In just more than six months, the Recovery Act, along with our other economic initiatives, has worked to stabilize economic conditions and help those harmed by the economic crisis. According to recent testimony delivered by the Federal Reserve Chairman, Benjamin Bernanke, the unemployment rate would likely be higher if the Recovery Act had not been enacted. By June, the economy was losing one-third fewer jobs than it was at the start of the 2009 year. Also, much of the financial strain facing states and local governments has been cushioned by Recovery Act money, which has allowed local leaders to avoid laying off teachers, prison guards, police officers, and firefighters.
I am pleased that rural communities throughout the Fourth District have benefitted from the Recovery Act. In the six months since the bill was signed into law, the Fourth District has secured over $213 million in Recovery Act funding. It is putting 36 youth to work in Johnson County, renovating recreation facilities at Pomme de Terre Lake, paving three roads in Vernon County, and funding a new police vehicle for the Richland Police Department. Funds are being used to expand community health centers and military facilities and to upgrade roads and bridges throughout the Fourth District. This work creates jobs and generates revenue for families and businesses. A complete list of Recovery Act projects secured in the Fourth District is available online by visiting www.house.gov/skelton or by visiting www.recovery.gov.
While there is still significant work to be done to restore our economy and bring relief to American families, economic experts agree that we are beginning to see glimmers of hope and that the Recovery Act is working as designed and on track to meet its goals. Our economic problems are years in the making and will not be solved overnight. However, we are certainly moving in the right direction.
Congressman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) serves as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Congressman Skelton’s website is at http://www.house.gov/skelton.