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DeLauro: America Needs to Stop Consuming, Start Building

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro lays out a four-point plan for economic growth.

At a round-table discussion this morning at the Southern Connecticut Regional Council of Governments office in North Haven, U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-3) discussed a four-point plan to boost the economy with local business leaders, economists and workers.

Encompassing a broad range of incentives, programs, and financial solutions aimed at helping small businesses, utility and construction industries, and the unemployed, DeLauro's proposal consists of four bills currently under review by the House:

Taken together, the legislation aims to, in the Congresswoman's words, "Put America back to work while rebuilding our country, growing our manufacturing capacity and fueling business innovation."

"We are no longer a nation that builds things," said DeLauro to preface the meeting. "Instead, we have become a country that consumes what others build. That's not the way it should be."

Building bridges

The National Infrastructural Bank Act, currently before the House Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology, aims to bolster the rebuilding of America's aging infrastructure through the creation of a government-owned bank responsible for leveraging private dollars to invest in bridges, rail systems, air transport, energy grids, telecommunication lines and other projects of regional and national importance.

"There are billions of dollars in private money available to invest in infrastructure," said Don Shubert of the Connecticut Construction Industries Association. "A dedicated infrastructure bank makes sense, and it has for a long time."

Despite bipartisan support for the concept, Shubert worried that the rancorous political climate in Washington could derail the bill. "What's holding up the process is widespread panic over government involvement in business," he said.

DeLauro stressed the importance of infrastructure as a driver of economic growth, clarifying that the plan is not to privatize public resources, but rather to guide private capital into large-scale civic projects.

"China devotes 9 percent of its GDP to infrastructure. There's a European infrastructure bank managing resources for high-speed rail. Brazil has worked on the idea," she said, citing successful international models of the proposed bill.

Edward Deak, an economics professor at Fairfield University and a past adviser to former Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell, noted the abundance of resources available for such an initiative.

"Corporate balance sheets have never been fatter than they are right now," he said. "They're holding onto that money. The key to making private investment in infrastructure attractive is to prove that these projects will be self-liquidating, and generate revenue."

Big returns for small businesses

The second component of DeLauro's plan, the Managing Reinvestment Account Act, is to assist small manufacturing companies by allowing them to make pre-tax contributions of up to $500,000 to special accounts (MRAs) set up at community banks. Distributions from these MRA accounts, taxed at a low 15-percent rate, can then be used only for the purchase of equipment and facilities for job training.

Jamie Scott, of Air Handling Systems in Woodbridge, said this legislation provides a much-needed incentive for small business owners to reinvest in their own companies.

"An MRA is just like an IRA, but for small corporations," he explained. "Small businesses are the engines of economic growth. They help Main Street, curb unemployment, and they give hope to the small man trying to make ends meet."

The bill, H.R. 110, is currently before the House Committee on Ways and Means.

Sharing the load

Up next, the panel discussed the Layoff Prevention Act, a bill designed to provide businesses with alternatives to laying off employees that simultaneously cuts rehiring costs for companies, and reduces unemployment among workers.

Such "work sharing" programs, currently active in 23 states, including Connecticut, allow companies to reduce work hours without firing employees, and provide workers with government benefits to compensate for lost wages.

H.R. 2421, now before the House Committee on Ways and Means, would widen the reach of these efforts, and strengthen the incentives already available for participating businesses.

Attendees at the round-table praised the ease of applying to the program, and commented on its value in improving employee morale at struggling companies.

"Work sharing maintains the esprit de corps in the corporation and the community," noted one business owner. "So far, the program has worked out really well for us."

Getting back into the game

Finally, DeLauro talked to the group about the Fair Employment Opportunity Act, a proposed piece of legislation that would make it illegal for employers to refuse to consider a job applicant based on his or her unemployment status.

"The recession has taken an incredible toll on the dreams and aspirations of American workers," said George Wentworth of the National Employment Law Project. "We talk to men and women every day who are fighting against negative stereotyping in the job market."

"There seems to be the false perception that if someone has been unemployed for a long period of time, then something must be wrong with him," he added.

By outlawing discrimination against applicants based on employment status, DeLauro hopes to renew faith amongst workers who fear they may have lost their edge in today's turbulent economy.

"We define ourselves by what our jobs are, how we contribute to society," DeLauro said. "The system we have is broken. It's vital that  unemployed people understand that they are competent at what they do, that they have marketable skills and that they have support."

The House remains in recess for the rest of August, and will resume its work Sept. 5.

Complicated by a lack of confidence

While many expressed doubts that the economy would turn around before the 2012 elections, DeLauro contended that what the nation lacks most at the moment is confidence in its government to establish a blueprint for the way forward.

"What we need is not just one program, but a series of pieces we can begin to work with," she said. "We need to begin to marshal resources around this kind of work. You have a sense of urgency, I have a sense of urgency and the nation has a sense of urgency about the long-term economic viability of this country."

What do you think of the congresswoman's ideas? Tell us in the comments section below. 

R. August 11, 2011 at 03:22 AM
Just another 15 minutes of &*^* for the Congresswoman who cares none for those who are not part of her donor lists.
Jezebel282 August 11, 2011 at 11:57 AM
I must agree. She has thousands of constituents who are seeing their jobs shipped off to Florida and Poland (Poland? Really, Poland?) by Sikorksy and not a word about that from her. If you are trying to keep manufacturing in this State that might be a good place to start.
Rusty Nail2 August 12, 2011 at 01:33 PM
How Rosa Delauro continues to get elected every two years is one of the great mysteries of the universe.? Here is a congresswoman faking concern about the problem of unemployment and jobs moving overseas, yet she is probably one of the most responsible for it over the previous years. Here is a list of some of her job crushing policies: 1) Obamacare 2) Pushing tax increases on job creators 3) Spending us into $16T worth of debt 4) Continuous voting against an expansion of our own energy supply. Her policies above are worthless. There should be zero capital gains tax on money re-invested in a company. Frankly, the entire capital gains rate should be zero for the country to free up capital for investment. I support national infrastructure but the projects are all based on political payback and not actual need, such as the current bus route to nowhere from Hartford to New Britain. The layoff and fair employment act does nothing to create jobs. They are a joke. I am begging people to stop voting for this failure of a Congresswoman!
Mike Reynolds August 12, 2011 at 01:57 PM
I agree with Rusty. When SaveStratford was working against Mayor Miron, Jason Santi, the DEP and EPA regarding dumping all Raybestos waste behind Clinton Ave., Congresswoman Delauro was not very helpful. She was very hands off and sent staffers who didn't give a damn and were very condescending.
Walt August 12, 2011 at 04:10 PM
The cadaver only seems to come around for a photo op or at election time. I think it's time the cadaver was replaced but getting that done in the liberal land that CT has become will be difficult
Rusty Nail2 August 12, 2011 at 04:28 PM
Cadaver? I love that. I have to start using it to describe her. To expand on your comment, have you ever noticed that Rosa never announces to the general public when she is holding these events? She does not want to be challenged at them so she invites only her "friends". If she is at an open event she then brings and "expert" with her to answer questions as she is incapable. The woman is a cancer on this country.
max August 12, 2011 at 10:03 PM
Spot on with your comments, Rosa is all about herself and not those she is supposed to represent. When I've needed to contact our reps, her's was the only office that never replied, whether in email or phone. I second your motion to vote for a congressperson who truly cares about those she/he is elected to represent, not their self interest (or those of their family).
Robert Chambers August 13, 2011 at 02:59 AM
I love the cadaver description, it is perfect. She was challenged last year by Jerry LaBriola who I've heard speak and is a real patriot, but when you have minions of the undead voting for you I guess a cadaver is tough to beat.
George E. Mulligan August 13, 2011 at 08:52 AM
Democrats & Republicans need to pretend to care, while worsening problems. Caring about partisan talking points & profit sources.
George E. Mulligan August 13, 2011 at 09:59 AM
Jason what happened to the closed post? <> Robert Chambers post from CT's Fractured government: - What's your opinion on this massive (and increasing) debt George? I can't imagine you think it's good for the country to have so much owned to the international banking cartels. - George to Robert & others. I wish I had the debt to asset ratio & resources which the U. S. Government has at its' disposal! 1) Over 80 % and likely over 90 % of land west of the mississippi is owned by the Federal Goverment. (Japan, Hong Kong, NYC, Mexico city, etc wish they had that problem. So much for world over population - not even considering Russia or deserts) - 2) Signiorage. The government can print money, not backed by Gold nor by anything except Trust (uutt oooh!) - 3) The government can tax anything & everything (it only seems that way) - 4) The government has unlimited access to Capital. (Huh?) Guess who wrote Germany & Japan's Constitutions and set up their entire industries, as well as West Europe & Pacific Rim? - Now China & Russia replaced Germany & Japan as # 2 & 3. Nixon opened China (perceived as) counterpoint to USSR GHW Bush was ambassador to China & UN. Brother Prescott Jr. was head of US Chamber commerce to China. Winthrop Rockefeller & Bill Clinton ex-Governors Arkansas, WalMart HQ, which is the Company (RR & CIA) store, distributor for China. - USSR gas pipeline was USSR capital source - NOW kited OIL/GAS. - US+UK+France created O,P.E.C.
Jim Miron August 14, 2011 at 12:43 AM
How is Raymark going these days with Save Stratford's and picked candidate - Mr. Harkins? Lots of progress to report?
Jim Miron August 14, 2011 at 12:45 AM
You people are idiots. Classless asses. Dont like the Congreswoman's policies. I get that. Calling her that is (obviously) without basis and just mean.
Mike Reynolds August 14, 2011 at 01:03 AM
Well Jim I don't see any dump trucks rolling through the Longbrook Park area to dump waste behind Clinton Ave so I'd say that's pretty positive. On another note try not to sound so bitter.
George E. Mulligan August 14, 2011 at 04:54 AM
DeLauro plan is worthless pretextual pandering. Elections coming up. Save Stratford starting to stir. I don't like agreeing with Jimmy about Raymark, when his Admisinstration didn't get anything done, yet despite the fact I like many of the Save Stratford people, it appears to have partisan utilitarianism?
Jim Miron August 14, 2011 at 03:47 PM
"Mike Reynolds" - I am amused not bitter. Fact is that I was not afraid to be a leader and move this town forward. Of course there were some bumps along the way as I was the first mayor and we had no precendent to look to. Not every decision I made was perfect or always right but there were a lot off accomplishments and we were on track to do something positive with the Raymark waste. Oh well, whatever. I guess the people of Stratford are people happy with maintainig the staus quo. So SaveStratford is happy with John Harkins on Raymark? Congratulations.

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