Lautenberg Pushes New WPA Bill To Create Jobs, Rebuild America

Sen. Frank Lautenberg

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In advance of President Obama’s jobs address to a Joint Session of Congress, U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) emphasized the importance of creating a 21st Century Works Progress Administration (WPA) to create jobs, lift a depressed economy and rebuild America.

The original WPA was a Depression-era program that provided almost 8 million jobs between 1935 and 1943. Unemployed Americans were put to work building roads, dams, schools and other projects, some of which remain in use today.


Lautenberg introduced the 21st Century WPA Act yesterday. The bill is cosponsored by Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jack Reed (D-RI) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

“The WPA created jobs, helped save America’s economy and rebuilt our country once before and it can do it again,” said Lautenberg. “WPA jobs are a proven, battle-tested solution that can pull Americans out of unemployment and improve the economic situation we are in today. This legislation will help us rebuild America by putting jobless Americans to work modernizing our aging roads, schools and other infrastructure. The 21st Century WPA bill is a fiscally responsible solution to the jobs crisis that will not add one penny to the deficit and requires the wealthiest Americans to begin sharing in the sacrifice that is being disproportionately shouldered by the middle-class.”

Lautenberg’s “21st Century WPA Act” would:

  • award funding to economically-beneficial job creation project proposals;
  • provide businesses unable to locate a worker with suitable skills with a WPA fellow, who would receive on-the-job training from the business and be paid by the WPA;
  • provide funding to communities to improve public safety by hiring unemployed Americans as firefighters and police officers;
  • be fully paid for through a surtax on income exceeding $1 million ($2 million for joint filers); and
  • provide $250 billion for job creation over the next two years and reduce the deficit by approximately $133 billion over 10 years.

Projects awarded funding by the 21st Century WPA would have to generate a high number of jobs per dollar of total cost, contribute to economic growth after completion, and rapidly recruit needed workers from among the ranks of the unemployed.

Examples of programs that could be funded by the WPA include residential and commercial building weatherization; transportation infrastructure repair and maintenance; school, library and firehouse construction; and National Park and trail maintenance. In order to be eligible to participate, an individual would have to be unemployed for at least 60 days.

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2 comments for “Lautenberg Pushes New WPA Bill To Create Jobs, Rebuild America

  1. SpecialKinNJ
    September 8, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    Civilian Conservation Corps
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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    The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 in the United States for unemployed, unmarried men from relief families, ages 18–25. A part of the New Deal of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, it provided unskilled manual labor jobs related to the conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands owned by federal, state and local governments. The CCC was designed to provide employment for young men in relief families who had difficulty finding jobs during the Great Depression while at the same time implementing a general natural resource conservation program in every state and territory. Maximum enrollment at any one time was 300,000; in nine years 2.5 million young men participated. Reserve officers from the U.S. Army were in charge of the camps, but there was no military training or uniforms.

    The American public made the CCC the most popular of all the New Deal programs.[1] Principal benefits of an individual’s enrollment in the CCC included improved physical condition, heightened morale, and increased employability. Of their pay of $30 a month, $25 went to their parents.[2] Implicitly, the CCC also led to a greater public awareness and appreciation of the outdoors and the nation’s natural resources; and the continued need for a carefully planned, comprehensive national program for the protection and development of natural resources.[3]

    During the time of the CCC, volunteers planted nearly 3 billion trees to help reforest America, constructed more than 800 parks nationwide and upgraded most state parks, updated forest fire fighting methods, and built a network of service buildings and public roadways in remote areas.[4]

    The CCC operated separate programs for veterans and Indians.

    Despite its popular support, the CCC was never a permanent agency. It depended on emergency and temporary Congressional legislation for its existence. By 1942, with the war industries booming and the draft in operation, need declined and Congress voted to close the program.[6]

  2. SpecialKinNJ
    September 8, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    A modern version of the Civilian Conservation Corps would be preferable to an updated WPA. But how does the Senator propose to attract participants in either, today, in NJ?

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