A national job-creation movement led by activist Van Jones came to the doorstep of Congresswoman Anna Eshoo’s office in Palo Alto Wednesday morning, where local members of MoveOn.org asked the congresswoman sign on to two job-creation bills in Washington.
Nearly two dozen picketers stood outside her office shortly after noon with signs that read “we know where the $ is, where are the jobs,” “fight for jobs as if our future depended on it” and “Rebuild the American Dream,”—a reference to Jones’ campaign—among others.
Campaign volunteer Robin Hansen said she was motivated to take action for the first time in her life after watching the influence of the Tea Party shape the debate over the debt ceiling.
“We were being held hostage, which is something I truly personally felt, sitting at home,” said Hansen. “These people are willing to shoot the economy, they’re willing to shoot the American people in order to get their way.”
Shortly thereafter, a 60-year-old homeless man from New York named Frank strolled up, pushing a walker.
“You’re looking for the American dream?” he said. “It’s in China. It’s not here anymore. This place had the American Dream after World War II. Eisenhower. Kennedy. Johnson. Jimmy Carter. But the day Ronald Reagan took the oath of office, the American Dream was just a memory. Don’t you see that?”
Frank has been homeless for two years and came to Palo Alto from New York because “you can lie down and sleep and nobody’s gonna stab you in the back.”
Inside Eshoo’s office, five members of the local MoveOn.org Mid-Peninsula American Dream Council sat with one of Eshoo’s field reps and urged the congresswoman to back HB 402 and SB 652, companion bills being drafted in Congress that would create and fund an infrastructure bank.
Infrastructure spending in the US—about two percent of GDP—has fallen far below that of other nations. Europe spends five percent of its GDP on infrastructure, China spends nine.
“They’re estimating that for every $1 billion we can get 47.500 jobs and an economic value of $6.2 billion, “ said volunteer Steve Barrett. “So there’s a big bang for the buck. And it solves two problems. The infrastructure, by anybody’s standard, needs to be repaired. That’s not just me saying that, the American Civil Engineers are saying that the next five years to stay even—not to improve, but to stay even—we need $2.2 billlion.”
MoveOn Volunteer Andrew Johnson said the purpose of the group’s visit, beyond mustering support for infrastructure legislation, was to encourage a shift in debate in Washington.
“The bill is co-sponsored bipartisan on the Senate side,” said MoveOn volunteer Andrew Johnson. “What we’re here to try to do is change the conversation. The conversation in Washington has been absolutely poisonous. And some people keep saying we need jobs, and then we go off down the rabbit hole, chasing debt ceiling and spending cuts, which are gonna cost us jobs. So we’re saying on the other side of the ledger, how do we get legislation that will bring needed repair to our country’s infrastructure and jobs that come with it.”