Mikulski calls for ‘urgent’ measures on unemployment
Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski said Thursday that she expects voters would support additional government spending to help tackle the nation’s stubborn jobless rate as long as the money is used for specific programs that have an immediate impact on unemployment.
“We have to have a greater sense of urgency about what we can do now,” the Maryland Democrat said in an interview hours before President Barack Obama was set to roll out a jobs creation plan before a joint session of Congress Thursday. “I've got the fierce urgency of now.”
Mikulski said Congress has a number of proposals queued up that would have an immediate impact, including a long-stalled highway bill that pays for transportation projects. The legislation must be passed by the end of the month or Maryland and other states could lose federal funding.
Mikulski, a member of the Senate Appropriation Committee, said the appropriations process should also be geared toward job creation.
Many of those programs, however, have faced opposition from the Republican-led House of Representatives, particularly given the emphasis on reducing government spending and cutting budget deficits. The highway bill, for instance, has stalled over the amount of spending and the size of the federal gasoline tax, which funds many of the construction projects.
Asked whether Obama should strike a conciliatory or confrontational tone in his speech, Mikulski said that if he uses “plain talk” then he “will have the people’s support and they will put pressure on those that are obstructing.
“I think he needs to teach, rather than preach, and by ‘teach’ I mean really brief the American people on where we are…and [convey] that he truly understands the pain and reality” that the public is facing.