Omar: Federal Jobs Guarantee Program Will 'Pay for Itself'

CNN host doesn't question Omar's comment

September 17, 2019

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) on Monday night claimed the federal jobs guarantee program will "pay for itself."

Omar appeared on CNN's OutFront, where she was asked by host Erin Burnett about legislation she and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.)  reintroduced last week in order to create a three-year pilot program at the Department of Labor. Booker called the program a "major investment" for American workers.

"Addressing the entrenched structural hurdles that hinder workers’ success by offering bold solutions is how we strengthen the working class, grow the economy, and broaden prosperity and dignity for workers in this country," Booker said.

"It would create a pilot program to guarantee jobs for anyone that wants one. That's ambitious. It would cost a lot of money. What is the number one thing you would do to pay for that?" Burnett asked.

"This is an idea that was a long legacy. It was proposed by Franklin Roosevelt. It was supported by Martin Luther King, Jr. It's going to allow, it's a pilot project that, pilot program that is going to allow 15 communities within this country to create this program," Omar said. "I think ultimately when these jobs are created and people are placed in these jobs, it will pay for itself."

Burnett didn't question Omar's answer about whether the program would pay for itself. Some studies estimate the cost of a federal jobs guarantee program would be around $500 billion a year.

In the original press release, Omar said, "In a 21st century America, the ability to find stable work should be a human right."

"This is not a Democratic or Republican idea—it is an idea that is overwhelmingly popular with the American people," Omar continued. "Over a decade after the Great Recession, communities across the country are still suffering from low wages, inconsistent work, and a tax code that prioritizes the needs of the wealthy over working people. If we are going to build an economy that works for everybody, we as a nation have a responsibility to make sure everyone who wants work can find it."

The Federal Jobs Guarantee Development Act, which was first introduced in 2018, would establish a three-year pilot program at the Department of Labor in up to 15 communities that are experiencing high unemployment. The jobs will include "a prevailing wage, paid family and sick leave, and comprehensive health coverage like that enjoyed by Members of Congress."