Only one part of the White House's American Jobs Act actually passed Congress: a measure intended to boost employment among U.S. military veterans. With new evidence that vets' jobless rate is improving, President Obama is launching an effort to keep the progress going.
In an effort to cut the unemployment rate among veterans, President Barack Obama is calling for a new conservation program that would put veterans to work rebuilding trails, roads and levees on public lands.The president also will seek more grant money for programs that allow local communities to hire more police officers and firefighters.Obama's announcement comes as new job numbers for January showed promising signs for improving veteran unemployment. According to the report released Friday, unemployment among veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan fell more than six percent, from 15.2 percent to 9.1 percent, over the last year. The overall rate for veterans fell from 9.9 percent to 7.5 percent over the same period, which now places them below the national rate of 8.3 percent.
At an event in Virginia today, Obama argued, "Let's get more cops on the beat, let's get more rangers in the parks, let's get more firefighters on call, and in the process, we're going to put more veterans back to work.... They've already risked their lives defending America. They should have the opportunity to rebuild America."
It's smart policy -- the nation has (a) pressing needs that require trained, trusted professionals, and (b) veterans ready to serve here at home. There's no reason not to put these men and women back to work doing jobs that need to be done.
It also happens to be smart politics -- Republicans generally find it easy to reflexively reject any and all Democratic ideas related to improving the economy, especially when it comes to infrastructure. But the GOP will likely find it a little more difficult, especially in an election year, to balk at Obama's plan to help get veterans back to work.
Politico had more today on the White House's proposal for a "Veterans Jobs Corps," which intends to create jobs for as many as 20,000 veterans.