WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — Congress is reconvening this week for what could be a painful confrontation over how to put Americans back to work.
Lawmakers returning after a monthlong recess are in accord on at least one thing: Jobs policy must be at the top of the agenda.
“The American people have sent Washington a message: focus on jobs and the economy helping the average middle class family pay the bills because costs are going up and incomes are not,” Sen. Charles Schumer told 1010 WINS.
Schumer said Senate Democrats are putting together a jobs program which will include policies that can be supported as a bipartisan plan.
“Any elected official or political party that ignores the yearning of Americans for an actual program, actual policy that create jobs and get the economy moving again ignores them at their peril,” Schumer said. “The people who play partisan games, I think, will pay a price.”
But there’s little hope they will be able to put aside their differences long enough to come up with legislation that makes measurable improvements either to the unemployment rate or Congress’ dismal approval rate.
Even the main attraction of the first week back — President Barack Obama’s speech to a joint session of Congress — was put in place only after a fight between House Republicans and the White House over the timing of the primetime event, which has been pushed back a day to Thursday.
Congressman Peter King said even though there are major differences between the parties in Congress, consisting mostly of liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans, he hopes they can find common ground.
“I think we can find some areas to agree on but the president doesn’t help things when he’s always talking about the Republicans are the party of the rich and he’s the party of the working class; that’s just class warfare that gets us nowhere,” King told 1010 WINS.
He believes President Barack Obama and Republicans need to “tone down their rhetoric.”
King believes the Democrat-controlled Senate and the House — held mostly be Republicans — have to find ways to work around their differences.
“Part of it is finding policies that both sides can vote for without compromising their principles and that takes a lot of hard work because people on both sides feel very strongly about these issues.”
WCBS 880’s Steve Knight On Underemployment
This is not a Labor Day holiday to relax and celebrate for the millions of Americans who are either out of work, relegated to working just part-time, or who have simply given up their job search – a whopping 16.2 percent of the population.
The problem isn’t just unemployment, but underemployment.
“I a line cook / cashier,” said one woman working part-time who is looking for full-time work, which is almost like a full-time job.
She preferred not to give her name to WCBS 880 reporter Steve Knight.
She knows that in this job market she’s one of the lucky ones.
Six million people have been out of work for 27 weeks or more.
The median duration of unemployment has risen to 22 weeks.
And, the White House Budget Office projects that unemployment will remain above 9 percent at least through next year.
(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)