Column: We Must Turn To Congress During These Tumultuous Times

View of the Capitol’s East Front Plaza

There is no doubt that we are living in tumultuous times. Protests, riots and a vicious pandemic, have taken a great toll on many Americans. During the difficult times, dating back to the Depression, there was always someone who would emerge as a leader to soothe those among us who were suffering the most. Our president offers no hope and so we must turn to Congress to generate new ideas to help our country get through our national nightmare. The question is whether they are capable of rising to the occasion or are they so politically divided, that they are incapable of any original thoughts.                                                   

In the 1930s, America turned to Franklin D. Roosevelt to help us restore our greatness. Roosevelt rose to the occasion with a series of government programs that provided millions of new jobs and the promise of future stability. Under Roosevelt’s leadership, Congress created the Works Progress Administration, the Civilian Conservation Corps and eventually the Social Security Act. He stabilized our banking system and Wall Street with the Securities Exchange Commission and the Emergency Banking Act.

After World War II ended, there was a crying need for programs to help returning veterans. Roosevelt faced strong opposition from conservative members of Congress but he was determined to pass a GI Bill of Rights.  Veterans were guaranteed free college tuition, low-interest loans to buy homes and free medical care. Almost ten million veterans took advantage of the many programs. The cost was in the billions but much less than the recent federal bailout due to the pandemic.

President Dwight Eisenhower saw that America was badly in need of new jobs and he proposed the creation of the Interstate Highway System in 1956. It linked the east coast to the west coast and affected the economy of countless states along the way. It is estimated that over two million jobs were created and the economy was given a dramatic lift. While various roads have been built over the years in different regions of the country, no major infrastructure program has been created since that time that was effective and job-producing on a massive level. Washington talks about infrastructure, but nothing happens.                      

Millions of young people are facing potential unemployment due to the fallout of COVID-19. Others, who are mired in poverty, desperately need to find a job. Isn’t it time for a national job training program. New technologies demand modern skills and nothing is being done to help our youth gain those skills. Our roads and bridges are collapsing and fresh dollars could create jobs for the construction industry. There are countless other ways to get the economy moving again. All it takes is some legislative backbone at a time when it is desperately needed.

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Jerry Kremer
Former State Assemblyman Jerry Kremer is a columnist for Long Island Weekly and partner at Ruskin Moscou Faltischek in Uniondale. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the publisher or Anton Media Group.

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