By Diana Spatz
Monday, October 4, 2010
Last week Congress let federal funding expire, potentially costing more than 200,000 parents and young people their jobs. In contrast to the $700 billion Wall Street bailout, the $1 billion program that created these jobs was actually working.
(WOMENSENEWS)--On Oct. 1 Congress let federal funding for temporary jobs expire, impacting the jobs of over 200,000 parents and young people.
Some state governments may rescue these jobs, but most workers will be let go and have to enter the worst job market our country has seen since the Great Depression. And all for want of three Senate votes.
The jobs at stake were created under the TANF Emergency Contingency Fund, which expired Sept. 30. TANF, or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, is the federal program that was created under the 1996 welfare overhaul.
This year, the House of Representatives tried to extend the emergency fund three times. Each time Senate Democrats tried to pass the bill however, it fell a few votes short of the 60 needed to avoid a Republican filibuster. Last week, 57 senators voted in favor, just three votes short of what it needed to pass.
Created as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the TANF emergency fund was created to help states meet rising welfare caseloads, while providing temporary subsidies that would cover a portion of workers' wages and help employers create new jobs.
The jobs-funding program was premised on the idea that it's cheaper to create jobs directly, by investing in communities from the bottom up, than to pour billions into Wall Street and hope it will trickle down.
Unlike the $700 billion Wall Street bailout, which failed to get credit rolling into our communities again as it was supposed to, the modest $1 billion emergency jobs fund has actually worked.
Since 2009, the fund has created nearly a quarter million jobs for pennies on the dollars that were spent on firms deemed too big to fail.
The program enabled struggling employers to hire the help they needed to stay in business, while giving unemployed Americans the chance to work and bring home much-needed income for their families. This includes employers such as LIFETIME (Low-Income Families' Empowerment through Higher Education), the nonprofit organization in Oakland, Calif., that I founded and direct. Our organization helps low-income parents pursue post-secondary education and training and career-path employment.
Like small businesses across the country, LIFETIME has been battered by the recession and funding cuts have jeopardized our ability to staff the organization at a time when our community needs us the most.
Because of the TANF emergency fund, LIFETIME and employers across California were able to put more than 35,000 parents and young people to work and keep our businesses running. The same is true in other states, such as Texas, where the emergency funding created jobs for 51,000 Texans--including 27,000 young people. In Tennessee, where rising welfare caseloads led one state administrator to observe that "I haven't seen anything like this in 38 years," the program created over 1,100 jobs.
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