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During the Great Recession, from December of 2007 to December of 2008, the economy lost 3.6 million jobs and shrank by 5.1 percent. It was the worst economic contraction since the Great Depression of the 1930s. In the last year of George W. Bush’s presidency alone, the economy lost a staggering 2.6 million jobs, the worst annual jobs loss number since 1945.

In order to avert another Great Depression, Congress acted, passing the Economic Stimulus Act which injected resources back into the economy.  Later we passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which is credited with saving millions of jobs. As a result, the economic tide has turned.  Job growth continues month after month, and unemployment levels have dropped back down to pre-crisis levels. But the recovery feels hollow to so many Americans. Wages are still flat, even as the stock market soars and oil prices plummet.

The Republican majority in the House has refused to use the tools at our disposal to get working families the raise they deserve. They have pushed through budgets that slash spending and decimate the government’s ability to respond to fragile economic conditions. They have fought tooth and nail to roll back labor rights and keep the minimum wage as low as they can. These are not policies needed to strengthen our economy.

I continue to push for a hike in the minimum wage across the country to $12 an hour, and I support a $15 an hour rate for New York, which has a higher cost of living than much of the rest of the country. Meanwhile, I have consistently fought to protect labor’s bargaining power against Republican efforts to roll back their rights.

The best data we have shows that these steps will create jobs, not cost them. Secure paychecks for working families means businesses get more customers, and more customers means businesses have to produce more, which means even more jobs. This was the positive feedback loop we saw in the 1990s, and with smart economic policies, we can get back to that sort of growth again.