It’s been an interesting 24 hours, hasn’t it? Yesterday, we were one of possibly millions of Twitter users to tweet that President Obama would be giving his jobs speech on September 7 at a joint session of Congress. We’ve been keeping a close watch on the development of the President’s jobs proposal, as we know that funding the National Housing Trust Fund would both create jobs and provide much-needed housing in communities across the country.
The President’ s plans became murky, however, when in an unprecedented move, the Speaker of the House refused to call a joint session of Congress as requested and asked the President to reschedule his address. Reportedly, after some discussion between their two offices, President Obama and Speaker Boehner agreed that the President’s address will occur the next evening (conflicting, we note, with the NFL season opener between New Orleans and Green Bay). Today, we learn that Mr. Boehner will give his own address on “jobs and economic growth” one week later.
Bickering, brou ha ha, fracas. These are among the words used in the media to describe this situation. During an election year in particular it can be interesting, even fun, to pick winners and tally points. But this tendency to trumpet competition over substance can obscure the real issues that must be addressed.
In the United States, there are 10 million extremely low income households, and only 6 million rental units that are affordable and available to them. The unemployment rate hovers around 9%. We’ve asked the White House to add funding for the National Housing Trust Fund to the President’s jobs package so that we can begin closing the affordability gap while creating jobs. Funding the National Housing Trust Fund at $10 billion will create 122,000 construction jobs and 30,000 ongoing jobs managing housing created by the NHTF. These are not small numbers when you consider that employment rose by just 117,000 in July.
After this baffling 24 hours, we hope to see serious proposals from President Obama and from both sides of the aisle in Congress. High unemployment and a severe and growing shortage of housing affordable to the lowest income Americans are persistent problems that can and must be solved. The National Housing Trust Fund is part of that solution.
What do you think should be part of President Obama’s jobs package? What do you expect from Mr. Boehner’s speech? Saints or Packers? Discuss policy and pick (football) winners in the comments.