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Issue Position: The Economy

Issue Position

Earlier this year, I gave a "State of the 20th Congressional District" address to the West San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. I said that we have a lot to be excited about here in San Antonio. Gone are the days of San Antonio's economy being driven solely by tourism and military bases. Today, we can add to that a new manufacturing base, a strong aerospace industry, an even stronger healthcare and biomedical industry, and an emerging technology sector.

Unfortunately the national economic outlook is not as promising - despite what the White house is saying. As a result of President Bush's failed economic policy, the U.S. economy has suffered through over two years of near-constant job losses. Since January 2001, the economy has lost nearly 3 million jobs. Nationally, the unemployment rate reached an eight-year high of 6.4% in June 2003 - that's almost 9 million Americans looking for work!

San Antonio has not been immune to the downturn in the economy and the 2 million manufacturing jobs lost since 2002. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that there are 40,100 unemployed workers in the San Antonio metro area, and I know many families in the 20th Congressional District were affected by the closing of Levi Strauss & Co., Sony Electronics, and Phillips Semiconductors.

But we have been working hard to stay ahead of the pack. While there have been local manufacturing setbacks, San Antonio still ranked as the top Texas city in terms of job gain percentage for 2003.

KellyUSA is still leading the charge to redevelop the former Kelly AFB. To date 12,600 jobs have been created at KellyUSA, and KellyUSA today has a $2.5 billion impact on the San Antonio economy. That is equal to the economic impact of Kelly AFB on the local economy in 1995. And I will continue to work with KellyUSA to help them achieve the goal of creating 28,000 well-paying jobs with an economic impact of $6 billion annually.

Even though 2,000 well-paid Toyota employees aren't yet working the production line, Toyota is already having an impact locally. There are plans for new residential and commercial developments, and projections are that manufacturing, distribution, and supply companies will eventually create an additional 2,000 jobs to support the new industry's operations.

San Antonio has proven that its workforce and leaders are resilient and innovative enough to navigate tough economic times successfully. That is why INC. Magazine ranked San Antonio fourth on their list of "Top Cities to Do Business in America".

I was recently appointed to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, one of three "Exclusive" Committees in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Committee has broad jurisdiction over telecommunications, consumer protection, food and drug safety, the supply and delivery of energy, interstate and foreign commerce, air quality and environmental health, and the general public health.

That is important because while I look forward to working closely with San Antonio's telecommunications industry and our rapidly growing technology sector to create more jobs and economic opportunities, the city's largest industry is the $12 billion health care sector. Healthcare providers coupled with biomedical research employs over 100,000 workers and accounts for 15% of the local economy.

San Antonio finally has a Representative on the Committee with jurisdiction over the many healthcare related issues we deal with locally, and that puts San Antonio in a much better position to continue to lead the State in health related job growth.

Though we have been successful locally we cannot ignore what's going on nationally. As we have seen with the closing of manufacturing plants in San Antonio, and the losses in certain sectors of the local economy due to outsourcing, it is clear that decisions made in Washington, DC affect us here at home.

The Bush administration has now passed three tax bills in three years to stimulate the economy and create jobs and we are now more than two years removed from September 11th, yet job growth is still nearly stagnant.

That is why I support a jobs and economic growth plan that shifts the focus back to working families, avoids long-term deficits, and provides an immediate stimulus to get our national economy moving again. I will continue to fight for common sense measures that encourage hiring, targeting tax cuts to families, give businesses incentives to hire the long-term unemployed, speed up federal construction projects, invest in education, and give tax breaks to companies that manufacture products in the United States.