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Guest Column: Recovery funding benefits Mid-Missouri

Guest Column: Recovery funding benefits Mid-Missouri

U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton, D-4th. The district extends from Jefferson City through Moniteau County to the state’s western border

Over two years ago, America was on the brink of an unusually severe economic downturn. In the months that followed, the effects of the subprime housing crisis, which left many families across the country in foreclosure, were trickling in to other economy at an alarming rate. The economy was losing, on average, 700,000 jobs a month. And at the same time, consumer confidence and spending were falling; costs associated with food, health care and college were rising; and banks were clamping down on lending.

In light of the economic crisis, Congress and the president had an obligation to enact policies that would get our economy moving again, and we have worked to do that since the beginning of the recession. Inaction on our part would have made the situation far more dire for farmers, small-business owners, and families, and would have undercut America’s military and national security, making it far more difficult to properly address international challenges. The largest economic recovery effort occurred when Congress approved H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, on Feb.13. On Feb. 17, President Obama signed the bill into law. The Recovery Act is a comprehensive stimulus plan that includes both tax cuts and spending stimulus, and is designed to reduce the length and severity of the recession, as well as its impact on the American people and our national security.

In just over six months, the Recovery Act, along with our other economic initiatives, has worked to stabilize economic conditions and help those harmed by the economic crisis. According to recent testimony delivered by the Federal Reserve Chairman, Benjamin Bernanke, the unemployment rate would likely be higher if the Recovery Act had not been enacted. By June, the economy was losing one-third fewer jobs than it was at the start of the 2009. And much of the financial strain facing states and local governments has been cushioned by Recovery Act money, which has allowed local leaders to avoid laying off teachers, prison guards, police officers and firefighters.

I am pleased that rural communities throughout the Fourth District have benefitted from the Recovery Act. In the six months since the bill was signed into law, the Fourth District has secured over $213 million in Recovery Act funding. It is putting 36 youths to work in Johnson County; renovating recreation facilities at Pomme de Terre Lake; paving three roads in Vernon County; and funding a new police vehicle for the Richland Police Department. Funds are being used to expand community health centers and military facilities, and to upgrade roads and bridges throughout the Fourth District. This work creates jobs and generates revenue for families and businesses. A complete list of Recovery Act projects secured in the Fourth District is available online by visiting www.house.gov/skelton/ or by visiting www.recovery.gov.

Although there is still significant work to be done to restore our economy and bring relief to American families, economic experts agree that we are beginning to see glimmers of hope and that the Recovery Act is working as designed and on track to meet its goals. Our economic problems are years in the making and will not be solved overnight. But we are certainly moving in the right direction.

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