Twelve Republican members of the House Commerce Committee squashed the Green Jobs Act this week that would provide green jobs with federal money to unemployed people in Tennessee’s most distressed communities. Many of these legislators come from communities with high unemployment and some of them actually voted for a stronger version of the bill in a March subcommittee hearing.
The reasons for their opposition to the Act are murky at best but it appears this is all about party politics. The bill’s key sponsor is Rep. Mike Stewart, a rising young Democrat from East Nashville, a liberal enclave.
There is no rational reason for the Republican rejection of the Green Jobs Act. It does not ask for any money from the state’s troubled budget, relying totally on federal funding. It would simultaneously provide jobs and training for people who are longtime unemployed, which would help jumpstart the economy, and help Tennessee transition into a new green, sustainable economy.
The Green Jobs Act will be back again next year. Meanwhile, as the November election approaches, constituents of the legislators who voted against it need to be informed that, in the middle of the worst recession since the 1930s, their elected representative voted against jobs.
As I wrote earlier this week, it really is mind-boggling how paralyzed our state legislature appears to be when it comes to creating jobs for Tennesseans. We’ve got all sorts of culture war legislation, guns in bars, signage in abortion clinics, English as the state language, even an expensive and futile battle over the federal healthcare legislation. But can you people get off your asses and do something about the high unemployment rate in this state? No, you seem unable to figure that part out.
Now we finally have a jobs bill and what happens? Tennessee Republicans vote it down for no earthly reason except, I guess, it’s a “green” bill which means liberal, tree-hugger, latte-drinking, NPR-listening fake American and by God the “real” Americans of this state are going to punch that hippie but good.
I mean, what else can it be? Unless for some reason Tennessee Republicans don’t actually want to create jobs in this state. Do they think if people stay unemployed and angry and scared they are more likely to vote Republican come November?
I mean dang, I know I’m cynical, but that’s pretty cold, even for me. Surely Tennessee Republicans aren’t that evil, are they?
I’m not sure I like the hippie-punching alternative much better. But listen up, Tennessee legislators: people in this state can't wait until next year for jobs. They need them now. So quit dicking around and playing your political games. Enough with the bills about Jesus and guns and gays. You're wasting everyone's time.