the Economic Shockwaves
RealAudio version of this segment is available
HOLMAN: On a bright, cold afternoon earlier this month, Dave Dysinger
paid a visit to his precision tool plant on the outskirts of Dayton,
Ohio. Typically, the first month of the year would be an extremely
busy time for Dysinger, with large orders from clients consuming
the struggling economy is bearing down here. It helped force Dysinger
to lay off 100 employees, leaving him with only 15. After a stop
at the plant, we caught up with Dysinger at his corporate offices,
where currently he is the only employee.
DAVE DYSINGER: About a year and a half ago is when the business
shrunk to a size that I could no longer justify this facility.
So we downsized at that time, and we moved our entire operation
into one plant. I have continued to have my office in this facility,
so for the last year and a half I've worked in this building by
HOLMAN: All alone.
DYSINGER: All alone.
HOLMAN: Across town, Jim Clark, from the machinists union, understood
what Dysinger was going through. Forty-eight of his members were
laid off from this shock absorber plant the day before we spoke
CLARK: We expect by the end of this month or early February that
total will go to 180, maybe 200 people at this location. These
people are losing hope. They just, you know they don't have that
confidence that they're going to be able to come back here. So
they go home with the idea, "where am I going next."
HOLMAN: Dayton's mayor, Democrat Rhine McLin, said the layoffs
are taking a toll on a city that already has suffered from a shrinking
McLIN: When jobs move out, your revenue goes down, your income
tax goes down. And one of the things that we are facing as cities,
especially in Ohio, is that we have to come up with another way
to generate revenues. Now 2003 is going to be worse.
HOLMAN: The economic problems facing Dayton are a primary concern
for its new member of Congress, the first Republican elected to
represent the Dayton area in decades. But Mike Turner believes
he has an advantage since he served as mayor of Dayton for eight
REP. MIKE TURNER: I think that I come with a background of experience
that's a little bit different than perhaps some of my Republican
colleagues in that I have struggled with, and worked on the issues
of urban development, worked on issues such as public housing,
that really do need attention and focus.
HOLMAN: Turner's district spreads throughout the Miami River Valley
in southwestern Ohio. It extends from snowy rural plains on its
eastern edge to wealthy suburbs just south of Dayton to predominantly
for decades, industry flourished here. Auto plants and auto parts
manufacturers still dot the landscape. Wright Patterson Air Force
Base, the area's largest employer, generates $2.5 billion per
year in economic activity, and several Fortune 500 information
technology companies have home offices here.
these industries boomed during the late 1990s, the city spent
millions sprucing up its downtown, cleaning up the abandoned factories.
But Dayton ran headlong into a harsh reality: the economy was
taking a nosedive.
this month, the mayor slashed city jobs for the first time in
three decades, and she's considering cutting fire and police units.
Even local residents now are paying a price -- $5 per month for
McLIN: How do you handle a bankrupt city? What do you do? It would
take us a good two to three years to come out of this and be whole.
And with that, it would take a lot of changes that would be very
HOLMAN: Many residents in Ohio's 3rd District now are waiting
to see what sort of help they might get from Washington.
Clark focused on President Bush's economic plan, particularly
the proposal to increase the value of equipment that small businesses
can write off on their taxes.
CLARK: I think that's a good thing. I think that helps companies
like what we're in here today, it helps them to go and purchase
new equipment and create new jobs for the people in our community.
HOLMAN: But Mayor McLin dismissed one of the central elements
of the president's plan, a repeal of the dividend tax, saying
average Americans will not reap the benefits.
McLIN: How many Americans are really in a position to be receiving
dividends on a regular basis, other than waiting for when they
can retire and receive their money then? It doesn't address the
people who live in urban areas mainly. Those who have dividends,
that's a select group.
HOLMAN: Dave Dysinger remembers the days of higher dividends.
DYSINGER: Making money and spending money that's a lot of fun...
HOLMAN: But he is unclear about how much the federal government
could help him today.
DYSINGER: I'm not sure how that relates to my business. Even if
that happens, if the consumer has more money, the fact is consumers
have been spending money all through this recession. I don't know
off-hand anything specific that could come in and make the difference.
HOLMAN: Congressman Mike Turner said it was too early to talk
specifics about the president's plan.
REP. MIKE TURNER: I think it's going to be important as that proposal
moves forward that we look at ways to make certain that it's implemented
in a fair manner.
HOLMAN: With the 108th Congress now in session, citizens of Dayton
expect Mike Turner to voice their concerns on Capitol Hill.
McLIN: Mike Turner can't do it alone, and I know that, but he
has a responsibility to make folks aware in his caucus.
CLARK: If he supports labor, if he supports the working people,
we'll return that support, but he has to prove himself.
DYSINGER: Many, many people get their jobs from manufacturing.
So I would ask him to remember that as he works on legislation.
HOLMAN: Mike Turner is confident Washington policymakers understand
what has to be done.
REP. MIKE TURNER: The Democrats, Republicans, people at all levels
who have reviewed the economy believe that the federal government
needs to take action to stimulate our economy, and certainly that's
an action that we need to take.
HOLMAN: And the people in places such as Ohio's Miami Valley are
counting on those actions to make a difference.