Job seekers join a line of hundreds of people at a job fair sponsored by Monster.com on Thursday, March 5, 2009 in New York. The number of new jobless claims and the total number of people receiving unemployment benefits both dropped more than expected last week, though they remain at elevated levels and are unlikely to fall substantially in the coming months. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
While Congress squabbles over President Obama's American Jobs Act bill, Californians are suffering.
The $447 billion proposal emphasizes two major components: new jobs and tax cuts. For Californians, nothing is more necessary to move the state out of its malaise than jobs.
Among the provisions in the president's proposal are funds for teachers and infrastructure projects such as highways, bridges, and rail construction.
For public education, the bill provides $3.2 billion, which would translate to 37,300 jobs.
With respect to infrastructure, the bill includes $4.0 billion equating to 51,500 jobs.
Together, the $7.2 billion and 88,800 jobs from these two areas of the 135 page bill alone would reduce California's unemployment by about one-half percent.
That doesn't end the state's economic woes, but it would certainly help a lot of families, not to mention the state's coffers because of reduced funding for unemployment and the panoply of other social services.
So, why doesn't Congress pass the bill?
The biggest concern comes from the Republican-led House of Representatives, whose leaders do not want to add to the nation's already high debt with more spending. In fact, they want to cut domestic spending.
For his part, President Obama has offered to offset the additional spending through taxes on the wealthy and elimination of corporate loopholes.
That stalemate leaves Congress in suspended animation, a condition that seems commonplace these days.
What happens from here is anyone's guess. But we do know this much: in Blue California, the 2012 elections will be a referendum not only on President Barack Obama but also those in Congress, including the House where all 435 members will have to account for their actions.
Given the condition of California's economy and the attractiveness of the president's proposal, it may not be so easy for California's Republican House members to justify their positions as fiscally responsible.
Sometimes, food on the table and payment of the mortgage become more important than balancing a budget. To the extent that this is one of those moments, all of California's members of Congress have a lot to think about.