Of the Keizertimes

I had a chance to chat with Rep. Kurt Schrader, the second-term Democrat from Canby representing Keizer in Congress as part of the Fifth District. My questions are in italics. Here’s what he had to say:

The Congressional Budget Office projected unemployment won’t drop below 8 percent until 2014. What specifically do you think is causing this stagnation?

“I’m certainly not a Carnac or a guru here, but I do feel that the world, not just the United States, but the world has lost confidence in our governments. The European crisis, I think, is driving most of our problem right now – actually more than this country’s problems. When you have four or five counties over there whose governments are in worse financial shape than us, I think you’re seeing people worry> it’s not a crisis in the bans, it’s not a crisis in business. Both of those are doing much better than they were two or three years ago. But when you’re concerned about the United States of American failing, not able to pay its debts going forward and the big disparity between what we’re spending and what we have to pay for things, people are concerned. … I hope, come November, Congress steps up and actually does the deed and fixes this thing in a big way, and that will send a huge message to the markets and to people, businesses will start to invest and create the jobs.”

While the stock market has been volatile it’s been doing better than the employment market. Is there anything Congress can do to get these companies hiring again?

“I think it’s the same thing. We did this little deal, so-called little deal, it’s actually a huge deal by Congress standards, on the debt ceiling negotiations, but we’ve got to do more. If we just do the $900 billion and the supercommittee just does the $1.2 trillion, we will not have fixed the problem. The markets have said, and responsible, independent economists and think groups have said, we’ve got to do almost $4 trillion worth of adjustments in our spending and revenues to make ends meet. If we do that I think it gets business to invest, and businesses investing means jobs for everybody here in this country.”

What’s your top priority when you get back to Washington D.C.?

“I think it’s probably two things revolving around jobs. Jobs is the bottom line here. One is to make sure this committee delivers at the end of the day and delivers the grand bargain President Obama has talked about. … Secondly, to work on a bunch of other jobs’ agendas: Infrastructure will be one that’s coming up as soon as we get back in September. The gas tax is coming to a vote. Again, so we’ve got to actually do better than what we’re doing right now in highway infrastructure. “And on my small business committee we’re talking about making sure economic concerns are every bit as important in evaluating projects as environmental concerns so businesses have a chance at competing on a level playing field.”