Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Answers to unemployment: less health care costs, more energy

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Murphy) for 5 minutes.
   Mr. MURPHY of Pennsylvania. Mr. Speaker, last week, we received some unemployment numbers, or employment numbers, of 80,000 new jobs. It was a bleak statistic telling us that now we were in our 41st straight week where unemployment was above 8 percent. Of course, the real unemployment numbers are saying there are 23 million Americans out of work or looking for work, people who are unemployed or underemployed based upon their skill set and taking whatever job they can get.

   But put this 80,000 new jobs in an additional context, and it is of deeper concern. This year, 3.1 million students graduated from high school, and 1.7 million graduated with a bachelor's degree from a program. Add to that list also those who have an associate's degree or simply have dropped out of school, and we recognize those 80,000 new jobs are barely a drop in the bucket.
   Also note that among those who are college graduates, recently, 53 percent of them are underemployed; that is, working in a job below the qualification levels which they have achieved. About 1.5 million under age 25 in 2011 were jobless or underemployed, the highest in at least 11 years. In the year 2000, the share was at a low of 41 percent.
   Now, families are concerned because they don't want more unemployment checks when they can be getting an employment check. They need jobs to pay for their food and their housing, to pay off loans for their cars and schools, to save something for retirement or save something for other family needs for the future.
   But put this in the context of other increases families have had to face in the last few years. The increased cost for gasoline in the last 3 1/2 to 4 years is about $2,200 per year per family. The increased cost of electricity with new coal regulations put forth by the EPA will cause families' electric bills to rise by $300 to $400 per year. The new coal regulations are estimated to lead to a loss of 180,000 jobs per year. CONSOL has announced it's laying off 318 miners. Arch Coal has laid off 750 miners in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Virginia. Alpha notified employees at four West Virginia mines of a loss of 100 jobs.
   The coal regulations are such from the EPA that we have had no new coal-fired power plant permits granted for the last few years. Simply, no plants are being built, and ones are being closed down. And yet we have a massive amount of coal which we can use to create clean energy if the EPA would allow us to build some newer, cleaner plants. Look at sulfur dioxide--there has been a 56 percent decrease, and with nitrous dioxide a 38 percent decrease since the 1970s, while coal has tripled in its use. Mercury emissions have decreased by 60 percent since the 1950s, and we can do better.
   We also note that we can have new jobs from offshore drilling, and although the House has passed such legislation, the Senate and the White House have blocked it. If we drill for oil and natural gas, several things can happen. One, it can free up 2.5 to $3.7 trillion, which we can use to invest in infrastructure of roads, highways, bridges, locks and dams, and water and sewer projects. But as long as those areas are blocked, we cannot reap the benefits from that. Instead, we continue to spend money to protect OPEC oil fields and had a trade deficit of $127 billion last year with OPEC. And sadly, of course, there is that unmeasurable, immeasurable cost of having our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines
[Page: H4692]  GPO's PDF
fight overseas, fighting Taliban and al Qaeda funded with OPEC oil profits.
   Finally, we have the increased cost of health insurance. The Kaiser Family Foundation has estimated the cost to the average family to be about $1,200 more since we passed the health care bill here, and median income for families is down $4,300.
   There are solutions that the House, Senate, and White House can work on together. But much of this is in the area of using our domestic energy and to stop saying ``no'' to domestic energy. Although an all-of-the-above policy that includes wind and solar is valuable, we cannot create jobs by also saying ``no'' to coal, 10 Federal agencies trying to block natural gas drilling, and everyone dropping the ability to drill for oil. We have solutions, we have answers. We only have to have the will to pass these. 

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