Merkley: Federal Budget Lays Groundwork for Job Growth

Washington, DC – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement reacting to President Obama’s proposed FY2011 budget:

“I’m impressed by the focus on job creation and economic growth for working families that is apparent in President Obama’s proposed budget.  When he was sworn in, President Obama was faced with a trillion dollar deficit and an economy that was bleeding thousands of jobs by the day.  We’ve made major strides in stabilizing the financial system, but millions of Americans are still out of work and the inherited deficit still threatens our long-term economic growth. 

“In response to the economic challenges facing our families, the Administration has developed a budget that turns around the failed policies that created this recession, investing in job creation and taking aim at the federal deficit. 

“The president’s budget puts a premium on helping middle class repair their financial footing, including an extension of the Making Work Pay tax credits for 110 million American families and an increased child care tax cut for middle-class families.  Overall, it includes over $300 billion in tax cuts for individuals, families, and businesses over the next 10 years.

“This budget makes smart investments that will create jobs and provide serious opportunities for economic growth.  Specifically, the budget includes funding for investment in clean energy technology to put people to work in the next major growth industry, additional investment in Pell Grants to help our young people reaching for a competitive education, support for the military families that are making sacrifices every day for our nation’s safety and security, and increased aid to states and communities for infrastructure improvement and job creation. 

“Some additional good news for Oregon is the Administration’s investment of nearly $30 million for continued conservation and ecosystem restoration in the Klamath River Basin.  The timing of this funding is key to ensuring that the restoration efforts provide maximum benefits for our farmers, communities, and ecosystems.  This money will help farmers who have critical water needs in what is forecasted to be a very dry year.

“But while the president’s budget provides valuable funding, makes some tough choices, and provides a good starting point for fiscal responsibility, there is room for improvement.

“It is disappointing to see that the proposed budget includes a significant cut to the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) projects on federal O&C lands that used to be the property of railroads in Western Oregon.  BLM funding for O&C lands is vital to making the forests work for Oregon counties that are already hurting from decreased timber production.  I’ll be fighting to get more funding to effectively manage these lands.

“Another important economic tool that deserves comprehensive funding is the Economic Development Administration (EDA), which was cut by $9 million in the current proposal.  Financial assistance from the EDA helps rebuild communities that are suffering due to high unemployment or natural disaster.  Along with several of my colleagues, I sent a letter to President Obama requesting robust funding for the EDA and I’ll continue pushing to fund programs that have a proven record of creating jobs at the local level and provide a high return of investment for Oregon.  A program that leverages $10 in private funding for every $1 of federal funding should be at the top of the list when it comes to budget priorities.

“Also included in the budget are cuts to several federal housing programs.  I encourage the White House to turn over every rock in search of opportunities to cut unnecessary spending, but these cuts need to make sense.  I’ll be taking a close look at the proposed changes to housing policy to make sure that spending is not reduced in a way that damages working families.”