Obama acknowledges impact of government job losses
President Obama acknowledged the impact government job losses have had on the economy, and on those employees’ lives, during a televised town hall meeting last week. Obama’s statement “demonstrates a general understanding of the economic challenges local governments are facing,” according to a statement from the Washington-based National League of Cities (NLC).
During the forum broadcast on CBS Thursday morning, Karin Gallo, an employee at the National Zoo in Washington who had recently been laid off, asked the president for advice. Gallo is seven months pregnant and in the middle of building a house with her husband. “Workers like you, for our federal, state and local governments, are so important for our vital services,” Obama told her. “It frustrates me sometimes when people talk about government jobs as if, somehow, those are worth less than private sector jobs. I think there’s nothing more important than working on behalf of the American people.”
Though there is a feeling “by some people on the other side of the aisle” that just cutting federal government spending will create economic growth, Obama said, the loss of federal, state and local government jobs has been a drag on the economy even as private sector jobs grow. “The reason the unemployment rate is still as high as it is, in part, is because there have been huge layoffs of government workers, at the federal level, at the state level, at the local level,” the president said.
Neither Obama nor Congress should overlook the problems faced by local governments as they work to reduce the budget deficit, NLC said in its statement. “Budget cuts need to be made responsibly and not come at the expense of proven federal investments at the local level in neighborhoods, economic development, infrastructure, public safety and education,” the statement said. “Fiscal 2012 spending cuts outlined by the House Appropriations Chairman Rogers [last week] will force cities to make even greater cutbacks to essential city services and programs, and will gravely impact the ability of cities to expand economic opportunities for their residents and provide social services at a time when residents need both.”