Kline, Walz Take Different Approaches to Jobs

QUERY : Do you want your Congressman to put on a show, or work to help businesses HIRE you ?

Newsflash : In case you didn’t get the word yet, the showman representing Minnesota’s Second District has an announcement :

Minnesota Congressman John Kline is hosting a Career and Jobs Fair from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., this Monday, July 12 at the Inver Hills Community College in Inver Grove Heights. The event will feature more than 60 private-sector employers, service organizations and a variety of educational institutions.

Included in the employers participating are some that you may have not previously considered for your career patch; such as Carhop ( if you have experience in Repossession helpful … starting pay $12-14/hour) or PawnAmerica , which could lead you to a job with CrankyApe (auction website for a wide selection of insurance total-loss, bank repossessed, and dealer consignment motorcycles, ATVs, snowmobiles, and RVs.)

If you were thinking this might be for businesses that are creating jobs in the renewable energy industry (solar, wind, etc.), the list does not have any names that standout … unless you consider GreenSneakers (Green Sneakers was created as a way to raise funds for Crown Ministry Group by simply making others aware that donations of used tennis shoes are needed.)

There are a number of companies in the employment business … such as Career Summit, Express Employment Professionals and Kelly Services (if they don’t have a job for you maybe they can help you find one.)
But if you want that government health care, consider the Federal Bureau of Prisons (which has facilities in Waseca and Rochester) or the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

OK, to be fair, this commentary is not to diminish any of the organizations that will participate (as there are some more well known operations such as Target, TCF Financial {which received TARP funds thanks to Mr. Kline’s vote}, Best Buy, etc. that already employee many Minnesotans), but instead to recognize that this event is truly a Political Show. Timing is everything in politics, so putting the show on five months before the election is prefect … it implies that Mr. Kline has been focusing on jobs when his votes do not support that.

Jobs Fairs make sense when a company holds one as its business is expanding and it needs many qualified workers in a short time. Also, Jobs Fairs put on behalf of a college provides an opportunity for students to meet a broad section of companies at one time in one location. But in today’s job market, the best way to get a job is networking one-on-one … selling your skills to a targeted company …. Not a Jobs Fair cattle call.

Jobs Fairs have been done before …
Erik Paulsen (R-MN-03) held a job fair at Normandale Community College in Bloomington on February 8th with (drumroll, please) … Target, TCF Financial, and Best Buy participating. The media reported that there were 2 to 4,000 people participating … but Mr. Paulsen never issued a press release stating how many jobs were awarded based on his event. I suspect that there were jobs filled as the US Census Bureau participated but as Mr. Kline cautionedpredictable job losses emerging after the temporary bloat of government Census workers begins to disappear”, this was not the solution.

While Mr. Kline is putting on a show, Congressman Tim Walz (D-MN-01) is taking a different approach … contacting businesses directly.

For example, last week Congressman Walz visited Thin Film Technology Corporation.

Our local small businesses power our economic engine and as we move forward with our economic recovery, we have to make sure they have the tools they need to succeed,” said Rep. Walz. “I am here today to get input from Thin Film and to hear their ideas for revitalizing our economy and creating jobs. Some of the best ideas for how to move our economy forward are coming from right here in southern Minnesota.

We thank the Congressman for coming to Thin Film today, and we appreciate his support to re-authorize the Small Business Administration’s entrepreneurial development programs which would help small businesses in southern Minnesota and across the country. We also appreciate the Congressman’s support for extending tax credits that make it easier for business to invest in new equipment,” said Tom Lietha, CEO of Thin Film Technology Corporation. “Through our company’s history, we have seen some hard economic times, and we have had to rethink our direction and diversify our company. Now we’re on a solid path and expect to be creating more jobs in the near future.”

Congressman Walz has supported initiatives that encourage small business growth by increasing access to capital, encouraging investment and job creation through tax credits, and increasing financial security through affordable loans. Earlier this year, Walz supported the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act, which provides payroll tax breaks for business that hire unemployed workers.

Hmmm … the HIRE Act (aka H.R.2847)

First thing to consider is that (HIRE) Act did have bi-partisan support as Senators Kit Bond (R-MO), Scott Brown (R-MA), Richard Burr (R-NC), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Susan Collins (R-ME), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), George LeMieux (R-FL), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and other non-Democrats voted FOR … but in the House, the Party of NO included Mr. Kline and Mr. Paulsen (as well as Ms. Bachmann).

Second, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that HR 2847 would decrease the deficit $657 million.

For the company there are tax incentives.

First, the simplest one is that the employer is immediately exempt from paying its 6.2 percent of Social Security payroll tax on the qualified employee’s wages. The exemption is retroactive to Mar. 18, when the bill became law, and it applies to qualified employees hired between Feb. 3 and Dec. 31, 2010.
The second is a $1,000 federal, dollar-for-dollar tax credit that will be available in the 2011 tax year based on each qualified employee who works for your company for at least 52 weeks. So let’s say you hire 20 people this year … you’d get $20,000 off your 2011 taxes if you retain those people for at least 52 weeks. And that’s on top of your payroll savings for each of those people.

The legislation has targets. New employees have to have been out of work, or have worked less than one full-time week for 60 days, before they start employment for the business to get the credit. The employee has to sign a W-11 form, that attests to the fact that they qualify and the employer must retain that in their records. There’s no requirement for certification or for the form to be filed with the IRS.

This bill objective is to spur hiring by American businesses and every company in the country is eligible for it. Even small businesses can reasonably expect to collect benefits from it. Companies can save as much as $7,621 per qualified employee under HIRE.

Of special interest are America’s veterans. The unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans is almost 15.8%, higher than the average overall unemployment rate. There is a tax credit for employers worth $2,400 for hiring a veteran and $4,800 for hiring a disabled veteran.

It’s the little things that Congressman Walz does that does not get the publicity yet shows where his heart is. For example, Congressman Walz’s amendment approved in H.R.2701, the Intelligence Authorization Act to ensure that veterans, who are experts in keeping our country safe, are treated fairly in the security clearance process. “When determining if a veteran is granted a security clearance, I want to make sure the intelligence community makes those decisions based not only on suitability but also on the unique experiences these heroes had as a result of their service.”

As such, it was not a surprise that the day after explaining HIRE to Thin Film personnel, Congressman Walz received the Legislator of the Year Award from the National Association of County Veterans Service Officers.

I am deeply honored and humbled to receive this award,” said Congressman Walz. “Our County Veterans Service Officers are the advocates on the front lines every single day fighting for veterans and their families. I am proud to partner with them to improve the policies that can make life better for the brave men and women who have served our country in uniform.”

This award was established about 15 years ago to honor the Congressman or woman who the National Association of County Veterans Service Officers felt had worked the hardest for veterans. There have been years where no award was given because we didn’t feel it was merited,” said James Young, President of NACVSO. “However, this year Congressman Walz’s work clearly deserved recognition as it will help us fulfill the obligation proclaimed by President Abraham Lincoln; ‘to care for him, who shall have borne the battle and for his widows and orphans.’”

There’s a big difference between being a Showman and being a Congressman … we need someone looking on behalf of our veterans and civilians to help build an economy that will grow.

As voters evaluate the candidates this November, we know that Michele Bachmann, John Kline and Erik Paulsen opposed the HIRE Act that Congressman Walz helped enact, but let’s ask the challengers – Tarryl Clark, Dan Powers, and Jim Meffert where they stand on jobs …. I have a hunch they won’t suggest a Jobs Fair as THE solution.

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