You're on your own. That's the message the president is sending the American worker by demanding a $3.8 billion cut to education and work-force...

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You’re on your own. That’s the message the president is sending the American worker by demanding a $3.8 billion cut to education and work-force training in his 2008 budget.

The president is casting himself as the defender of fiscal responsibility, when his record shows the opposite: He is increasing spending at 7 percent per year — twice as fast as prior presidents, according to data from the Congressional Budget Office.

Adding insult to injury, the president is trying to fool the American voter into thinking he is “protecting our tax dollars” by slashing programs that our economy needs — programs that provide American workers with the job skills we need to drive a 21st-century economy.

These programs are built on a bipartisan action plan that became law in 1998 as the Workforce Investment Act. To meet the 21st-century economy head-on, the act consolidated various programs and resources to create a one-stop system of employment and training services. The goal: American business would get skilled workers to keep the United States competitive in a global economy, and workers would have access to family-wage jobs.

But today, the Workforce Investment Act is at risk. WIA programs have been constantly threatened in the past seven years, despite the stalwart support of senators and representatives who understand our critical need to invest in our country’s human potential.

Funding for programs in Washington state has dropped by 21 percent overall since 2001, and Seattle-King County has lost 43 percent — or $7 million — of its WIA funding since 2004.

But WIA programs are working — for workers and for employers. Each year, WIA programs help more than 6,000 people in Washington gain a degree or credential, prevent more than 1,000 students from dropping out of high school, and help almost 150,000 people find employment. Thousands of businesses are assisted with hiring and layoffs, and WIA supports numerous efforts to create a more-reliable supply of skilled workers.

The American people are up to the challenge of globalization, but we must send them into the marketplace well-equipped — not cut off avenues to education and training. That’s what we will do, however, if we allow this president to pretend he has rediscovered fiscal discipline at the expense of the American worker and the U.S. economy.

Let’s not mortgage the dreams of all Americans to seek a better life for themselves and their families. The Workforce Investment Act opens doors and increases incomes. It needs to be supported by all clear-thinking Americans who understand today’s world, for the sake of our economy and our workers.

Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Seattle, serves the 7th Congressional District of Washington state. Tim Probst is CEO of the Washington Workforce Association, based in Vancouver.