Tribune Democrat: Shuster - Democrats should focus on jobs
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Release of the Labor Department’s September jobs report putting national unemployment at 9.8 percent prompted a local Republican congressman to call for Democrats to shift their focus from health care reform and national energy taxes to getting people back to work.
U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Hollidaysburg, said in a prepared statement that the number of unemployed is the highest national rate of joblessness since 1983.
“Instead of pushing through another crippling national energy tax and a trillion-dollar takeover of the American health care system, Democrats should open their minds to Republican alternatives that are focused on restoring fiscal responsibility and getting Americans back to work,” Shuster said.
Especially disheartening, he said, is that nearly 3 million jobs have been lost since the Democrats passed the stimulus bill and promised to halt unemployment at 8 percent.
Shuster’s 9th Congressional District covers northern Cambria County and all of Somerset County south of Route 30.
Republican lawmakers have said they are frustrated by their inability to make changes at the table because of the strong Democrat majority.
“We are in the minority. It’s hard to get things passed,” Shuster aide Jeff Urbanchuk said Friday.
U.S. Rep. John Murtha, D-Johns-town, called the loss of 263,000 jobs in September disappointing, but noted the rate has declined from the 741,000 jobs lost in January.
“Recently, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that our economy would have lost
1 million more jobs if Congress hadn’t passed the economic stimulus bill,” Murtha said in a prepared statement.
“Creating jobs and economic development opportunity has always been my priority in Congress, and while the unemployment rates of most counties in southwestern Pennsylvania remain below the national average, we must continue to work together to strengthen our economy and put Americans back to work.”
Republicans lament what they view as the unwillingness of Democrats and President Barack Obama to work with them despite continued job losses.
“We’re now almost on the roof of 10 percent unemployment. That hits a psychological factor, and the president hasn’t met with Republicans since May,” Urbanchuk said.
Adding to the Republicans’ concern, Urbanchuk said, is the push for the massive “cap and trade” energy bill and health care reform that the GOP says will hurt small businesses and throw more people out of work.