What’s going on here in Kentucky’s employment scene is typical nationally:
With the economy slowly reviving, an executive from Atlas Van Lines recently visited Louisville, Ky., with good news: the company wanted to hire more than 100 truck drivers ahead of the summer moving season.
But a usually reliable source of workers, the local government-financed job center, could offer little help, because the federal money that local officials had designated to help train drivers was already exhausted. Without the government assistance, many of the people who would be interested in applying for the driving jobs could not afford the $4,000 classes to obtain commercial driver’s licenses. Now Atlas is struggling to find eligible drivers.
Across the country, work force centers that assist the unemployed are being asked to do more with less as federal funds dwindle for job training and related services.
And that’s because Republicans have cut job training programs again and again. Both this year’s version of the Ryan Austerity Plan and last year’s version called for massive cuts to job training programs, and the Republicans got a healthy chunk of those cuts as part of budget deals (that they are looking to renege upon now). By the way, every single Republican in Congress voted to keep paying federal oil subsidies which would have more than covered the job training budget several times over. Instead, these programs are out of money in April already.
To bolster training and other services for jobless workers, the Obama administration recently proposed consolidating two programs. The general dislocated worker program paid for under the Workforce Investment Act would be combined with the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which provides training and other benefits to workers who lose their jobs because of foreign competition.
The trade program, which has an annual budget of $575 million, is typically more generous, but narrow in eligibility. The combined program would make all funds available to anyone who had lost a job, regardless of the reason.
In his latest budget proposal, President Obama also requested an additional $2.8 billion a year for job training over the next decade. “Even in this very tight budget,” said Gene Sperling, national economic adviser, “the president felt that there was an imperative to call right now for a more simplified and effective training system” that also had an increase in funds.
You’re probably saying to yourself “Why cut job training programs for people who want to work when unemployment is as high as it is?” You’ve answered your own question, same as why Republicans want to eliminate federal programs for birth control, preventative care, sex education, early childhood education, and day care. They don’t want anything to get better for the working poor. They might end up with an extra five bucks to give to a Democrat. Can’t have that. Gotta have tax cuts for the Job Creators instead. That’ll teach you to be poor.