Hundreds gathered outside Congressman Jeff Denham's Fresno district office on Friday, angrily chanting "WE WANT JOBS". The Fresno metropolitan area, the fifth largest in California and the largest inland city, is currently suffering from a 16.8% unemployment rate, one of the highest in the nation. And it's only rising. Most of the people at the rally have spent more than 5 months looking for work. One man, dressed in a suit, has been unemployed for a year and a half. Said one woman from the crowd, “Unemployment doesn't pay enough, let alone leave money left over to pay the rent and eat." Rep. Denham, a Republican representing California's 19th District, defended himself by claiming that he's fighting hard to create jobs, having sponsored "nine job creation bills" cutting regulation and lowering taxes for business. He ignores that eight years of deregulation and tax cutting for corporations and the wealthy produced the worst decade for the economy since the 1930s. In the 2000s, a decade dominated by George Bush's repeated tax cuts for the wealthy and clearcutting of regulation, private employment actually fell! Denham's claim to have sponsored nine jobs bills also falls to pieces on closer inspection. He sponsored a couple of bills to clarify the definition of the watershed for a river, a bill to establish a commission that would examine ways to more easily sell federal property, a couple of ceremonial bills that have about as much economic impact in the district as renaming post offices, a bill gutting economic and environmental review over local projects, a bill to remove implementation money for the restoration of the San Joaquin River and reintroduction of salmon, and a resolution to express hope that airlines would bestow extra benefits on members of the US military. Nothing in that parcel of bills, most of which show no signs of passing any time soon, show promise for reducing the jobless rate of Fresno. Hopefully the crowds showing up at his office will cause him to look for better answers to the jobs crisis with a little more urgency.
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