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Saperstein: "In this time of economic hardship, it is essential that Congress invest in programs that help Americas most vulnerable citizens through job creation, programs that support Americans as they continue to return to work, affordable housing, and good, green jobs."
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WASHINGTON, D.C., February 22, 2010 - Rabbi David Saperstein, Director and Counsel of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, sent a letter to all members of the Senate urging them to include in the Senate version of the Jobs for Main Street Act (H.R. 2847) provisions that are vital to meeting the needs of Americans still struggling with the recession. Full text of the letter follows:
February 19, 2010
On behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis which includes over 1,800 Reform rabbis, I write to urge you to take seriously the words of Proverbs 31:9, Ðspeak up, judge righteously, champion the poor and needy, and include in the Senate version of the Jobs for Main Street Act (H.R. 2847) provisions that are vital to meeting the needs of Americans still struggling with the recession, including nearly 15 million Americans who are currently unemployed - 40% of whom have been out of work for more than 6 months. Chief among the goals of the Jobs Bill must be to return these Americans to work and support them as they continue to look for work. We urge you to include provisions passed in the House Jobs for Main Street Act that would strengthen crucial financial safety nets for low-income families. These include:
- An extension of unemployment benefits for six months. Without Senate action unemployment benefits will expire for more than 1.2 million workers on February 28th.
- A 15-month extension on COBRA health insurance subsidy benefits for those who have lost their jobs.
- $1 billion for the National Housing Trust Fund to build, preserve and rehabilitate housing for extremely low-income households, creating affordable housing where there is currently a huge deficit of units affordable to low-income households, and also help put people back to work: the National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates that each $1 billion provided to NHTF would create 15,000 construction jobs.
- $23.5 billion to extend the higher federal match for payments to doctors providing services to low-income families under Medicaid.
- $2.3 billion to increase eligibility for the refundable portion of the child tax credit, which would make it available to all low-income working families.
The Jobs Bill is an essential means of rebuilding our wounded economy by supporting investment in new areas, including clean energy. We therefore urge you to prioritize the development of green jobs and the clean energy economy by including many of the investments in energy and environmental programs that were in the Jobs for Main Street Act passed by the House. Good, green jobs cannot be easily outsourced, will yield millions in consumer savings on electricity and transportation costs, and will help protect our natural resources for generations yet to come. To ensure that these jobs are available to all Americans, we urge the Senate to include green jobs training programs focused on traditionally underrepresented communities, building on the $750 million in investments in high-growth fields including green industries in the House bill. Economic and environmental justice concerns are deeply intertwined, and green jobs must be a key component of a comprehensive and equitable approach to creating pathways out of poverty for all Americans.
In this time of economic hardship, it is essential that Congress invest in programs that help Americas most vulnerable citizens through job creation, programs that support Americans as they continue to return to work, affordable housing, and good, green jobs.
Rabbi David Saperstein
Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism