A handful of the members of liberal political group MoveOn.org gathered outside the office of Lois Capps on Wednesday afternoon to encourage the 23rd District congressmember to support President-elect Barack Obama‘s proposed stimulus plan, which aims to bolster employment through green infrastructure. Armed with nearly 700 local signatures and signs reading “Green Jobs Now,” the crowd stood outside Capps’s empty office - she was in Washington, D.C.- and shared personal accounts of job losses and failed loans from banks previously awarded government money.
“We want this package to be pushed through fully and quickly and to include important provisions including investment in green jobs, health care, and clean energy,” said Lois Hamilton, coordinator for MoveOn’s Santa Barbara region. “We are behind [the package] 100 percent.”
Hamilton mentioned a $1.1 million freeway project near Capps’s office that has been halted due to inadequate state funding. “The 23rd District is really suffering,” Hamilton solemnly noted of Capps’s district, which includes parts of Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo counties. Although infrastructure as an economic recovery tool has been used in the past, it has also received some heat because the effects are often slowly felt.
“[Infrastructure] is not going to give us immediate need unless we go big and go fast,” Hamilton said. “That’s why we need this [stimulus package] right away. When [Obama]’s inaugurated we want it on his desk and signed.”
Within those who spoke from the small assembly was James Spitzer, a, area construction worker and father of two teenagers. Spitzer said he was laid off from his company after investors pulled out of planned projects due to fear of money loss. He blamed lack of confidence in the economy. “I’ve been in construction in Santa Barbara for over 20 years. I’ve had all the work I could ever do, even pick and choose projects,” Spitzer explained. “The company I was working for lost millions of dollars in a couple of months’ time.”
Spitzer said he was also interested in starting his own business in green modular structure manufacturing but cannot find investors nor can he get a loan from a bank. “All this bailout money [the government] is kicking to the banks isn’t getting loaned out to the people. It’s not trickling down like it’s supposed to : But it’s all going to get better,” he said, before adding with a laugh, “Just kidding.”
Capps’s office released this statement:
“Addressing our economy is the top priority for me and my Democratic colleagues. We can’t fix our economy overnight but with President-elect Obama’s leadership and the leadership of the new 111th Congress we can meet the challenges and seize the opportunities presented by our current economic situation. I have long pushed for green jobs, alternative energy funding and against more offshore drilling. As an early and dedicated supporter of President-elect Obama, I am proud to support his call for a reinvestment in health care reform, new energy technologies and infrastructure projects. I also share his desire to help protect critical state and local community services like law enforcement, education, and health care as a means to jumpstart our economy. I look forward to working with President Obama and the Democratic-led Congress to quickly enacting this forward-thinking economic stimulus package.”
Suzanne Heibel is an Independent intern.