"The Democratic Party has been a real bonanza for our recruiting. We bring people from the Democratic Party into the Communist Party. Comrade Al Franken has been a pillar of support."
National Committee Member, CPUSA and candidate for National Board.
Grand Forks Herald: EGF analyzes Franken’s jobs plan
Posted in News Clips on February 11th, 2010
Sen. Al Franken’s plan for creating employment — fashionably nicknamed Cash for Jobs — came to East Grand Forks on Thursday.
Some praised it while others thought it was a clunker compared with other government options to stimulate the economy.
The first-term Democratic U.S. senator proposes a wage subsidy similar to one used in Minnesota in the 1980s that returned 7,400 workers to jobs. The subsidy, good for up to a year, would amount to half of the wages, with a maximum subsidy of $12 per hour.
A second part of Franken’s plan would create jobs that would make public buildings more energy efficient. Both components would use money returned from the bank bailout.
Henry Tweten, an East Grand Forks City Council member and Democratic leader, said the government should create jobs by adding infrastructure such as the building of the interstate highway system in the 1950s. Specifically, he suggested U.S. Highway 2 be improved to four lanes all the way to Duluth; it has some two-lane gaps now.
In addition to construction jobs, it would create more Canadian traffic, revitalize the Iron Range and make the highway safer, Tweten said.
“Nothing worked better than jobs when we went through the Great Depression,” he said.
Economic times are tougher locally than they seem, AFL-CIO local representative Mark Froemke said, because North Dakota and Minnesota residents rank high for having more than one job. “People should need only one 40-hour job,” he said.
Barry Wilfahrt, president of The Chamber of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks, agreed that this area hasn’t been completely immune to the recession. In the last year, he said, Polk and Grand Forks counties have combined for 1,600 fewer jobs than a year ago and taxable sales in Grand Forks have gone up a meager 1.5 percent.
Wilfahrt wasn’t critical of the program, but cautioned that “whenever Congress does something, it affects the cost of doing business. I say to give things time to work, times for free enterprise to adjust, before throwing another fix out there. I’d suggest more steady as she goes and not so much change so fast.”
The Communist Party is in full agreement with the Chamber of Commerce. We want steady but sure progress, too. We may be looking at joining forces with the Chamber. This would be my idea of coalition building. We like to proceed with caution.
Chair, National Board, CPUSA