Exactly one year ago our nation, and much of this world, was in a state of panic and turmoil. Companies and industries were shedding jobs faster than we could count. The stock market was tanking in front of our eyes. Waking up every morning to look at the headlines of the newspaper was a daunting task in fear of what a new day could bring to the American people. We needed a lifeline.
And so President Barack Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on February 17, 2009. Critics have been very vocal at pointing out the persistently high unemployment rate as well as flagrant examples of waste and inefficiency. At the same time, supporters have ample evidence to defend the act – a couple million jobs saved or created, a depression averted, and billions of dollars supporting and aiding colleges and universities to invest in the future of our country. Both sides have valid arguments and substantial verification. Undoubtedly, there have been great benefits from the act, but inevitably there is also vast room for improvement in the second year of the two year plan. With a year behind us, we must look ahead and focus our attention and energy in avoiding past mistakes by demanding greater transparency, and demanding higher quality outcomes. As the White House begins to craft the new jobs bill, we must make sure the bill creates good jobs – jobs that offer living wages, provide benefits, and have the potential for long-term growth and advancement.
Moreover, throughout the recovery process, it is imperative that we take into consideration the situation of all Americans, not just those in traditional industries like construction, but also, those individuals that were already struggling before the economic crisis hit. These people cross city and county boundaries, range in age, gender, nationality and economic status. It is easy to lose sight of the goal of the recovery, and point fingers to blame others for mishaps, but at this critical time in our nation’s history we must work together as a nation so no one falls behind. The only way forward is as a union.