Labor Sec: 'Millions Of Jobs Were Saved' By Extending Unemployment Benefits

Labor Sec: 'Millions Of Jobs Were Saved' By Extending Unemployment Benefits

Obama Labor Secretary Hilda Solis appearing on CNBC:

REPORTER: How many jobs do you think the fiscal cliff embarrassment cost this country?

SECRETARY SOLIS: You know, all I can tell you is that we’ve helped to provide, I think, some stop gaps. And what I think about is, those 2 million people that would have lost their unemployment insurance. Because think about it, all that money that goes out in terms of what’s being spent by that unemployment check helps to generate two additional dollars back in the community. Everyone continues to keep their jobs. I can’t give you an exact figure, but I’ll tell you just by the movement that the President made, we’ve saved millions and millions of jobs.

REPORTER: No, I understand your point of view. But it doesn’t answer the question of, as long as the debacle went on, we at CNBC have asked people in Washington to rise above through the entire process. It turned out to be a tremendous embarrassment. We talked to CEOs every show of every single day over the last several months who said they’re not hiring as a result of the uncertainty regarding the fiscal cliff. Now we have the debt ceiling debate. So certainly we cost ourselves thousands, tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of jobs over the last several months because of this whole debacle.

SECRETARY SOLIS: I’ll tell you, I think the bipartisan agreement that was agreed to did help to provide the kind of effort that the public, the american public wanted to see, and we’re going to continue to see that move along. I know that the President has the support of the public. I don’t think — it’s not for the President not wanting to do things. You have to have two people cooperating.

REPORTER: Madam Secretary, the question, though, is simple, was there an impact on hiring in your estimation because of the fiscal cliff? And we ask that, because we’re entering another phase in which we have to deal with spending cuts and the debt ceiling. So was there an impact, and then, will we see an impact in the next couple of months?

SECRETARY SOLIS: I did not see a dramatic impact in this job report. I mean, if you look at the unemployment rate, it stayed about the same. what i do think is really important is that we continue to move forward, because we still have unfinished business in terms of infrastructure, job development in areas that are still needed, like construction, continuing our work in manufacturing, and renewable energy. And also addressing other issues that need to be taken care of. Do we keep our eye off the ball? No, we keep moving forward and making those investments and encouraging small business to continue to push up. That’s why the president pushed for R&D, research and development, and giving incentives for business toss do the right thing and get involved in new types of industries; green industries, technological industries, things like that. Sure. I’m encouraged. I’m encouraged. but you know, it takes two parties to come together. The President understands that, and will do everything in his power to see that happen.