The Best Jobs Program in America is About to End

By Supervisor Don Knabe

In less than a week – absent action from Congress – we will have to say farewell to a Federal Stimulus program that employed nearly 27,000 adults and disadvantaged youth since we implemented the program in Spring 2009.  And I cannot understand why this has to happen.

Our 10,000 Jobs Program here in Los Angeles County was funded through the Economic Recovery Act’s new Temporary Assistance for Needy Families – Emergency Contingency Fund (TANF ECF). This new fund has proven to be one of the Act’s greatest successes in creating jobs and stimulating the economy.  It created subsidized employment for thousands of people, created opportunities for private businesses and non-profit organizations to conduct business in the middle of a deep recession and reduced both the State and the Federal government’s costs to provide welfare benefits.

Policymakers in Washington have told me that this program has been the most effective use of the Stimulus dollars they have seen.  Business owners have told me that, without this program, they wouldn’t have been able to stay open.  People who have gotten jobs have told me that earning a paycheck and taking care of their family has been much better than collecting a welfare check.   In fact, many adults employed through this program have transitioned to permanent, unsubsidized jobs.  To me, that is proof alone that this program is a success.  We just need Congress to take action and extend this program.

In all, I have not seen any downside to this whatsoever.  That is, until next week, when thousands of people will be once again out of work.  I expect most of them will be seeking welfare benefits again, at a significantly higher cost to state and federal government.  Does this make any sense?

I don’t want to say farewell to a program that has done so much good for so many people.  If Congress does the right thing, we could keep these folks working, and employ more.  And we could save taxpayers money.  The Congressional Budget Office estimates that if TANF-ECF is continued into the next federal fiscal year, it could reduce Food Stamp costs by roughly $170 million due to its positive effect in increasing the income of poor families.

So I respectfully ask my friends in Congress – both Democrats and Republicans – what are you waiting for?  Please take action to reauthorize the Stimulus funding that made the 10,000 Jobs Program such a great success.  You will keep people working, you will create more jobs and you will keep the economy moving closer towards recovery.