Friday, September 2, 2011

What To Do About Jobs


Yes, the numbers are terrible. Unemployment at 9.1%. No new jobs added to the economy. June and July employment figures revised to show 58,000 fewer jobs than previously reported.

Bad, bad, bad.

So how do we get to this?

Stimulus. Lots of it. Deficit spending on education, job training, infrastructure, construction, even make-work jobs that might not be permanent. It doesn't matter. People need jobs and right now only the federal government seems capable of providing the impetus for them in large quantities. Oh, I know that this paragraph will inspire laughs, guffaws and some generally dismissive comments from many people across the political spectrum (if you're still reading), but that doesn't matter to me and it shouldn't matter to the president. Corporations are sitting on their cash and are reluctant to hire because consumers aren't buying because they, surprise! don't have jobs or fear that they might lose their jobs at any time. It's a vicious cycle.

Tax cuts for the wealthy have led to pitifully slow expansion in both wages and job growth over the past 10 years. A 2% cut in wage earner's payroll taxes since January has also done nothing to revive spending. Cutting interest rates, which was a primary cause of the housing bubble and mortgage debacle, will not jump start the economy.  In short, the conservative trickle-down approach to the recession has not worked. It has not worked at all.

Here's an article for your perusal.

That's why we need more stimulus spending, and this time the money needs to go directly to jobs. Consider that although the stimulus plan of 2009 did not fully revive the economy, the portion designated for employment resulted in job growth, or at least stopped the slide in job losses. Here in New Jersey, money from the federal government allowed towns and school districts to maintain hiring. Since the money ran out, there have been layoffs and severe budget cutbacks. It didn't help that Governor Christie and conservatives in state and federal offices demonized public workers, which made it easier to cut programs and lay off employees. The point is that federal money at least stopped the bleeding. That's why we need more, not less.

The current political climate puts more emphasis on cutting spending. That's wrong. Cutting spending takes money out of the economy, which is the opposite of what we need. And the deficit? Easy. More jobs means more people will be paying taxes and buying consumer goods, which will also help businesses and allow them to grow and, surprise! hire more workers who will pay more taxes. The deficit will go down as more money piles into the treasury. Severe cuts won't be necessary. That's the cycle we want.

Will President Obama propose this type of plan on Thursday? No. But he should. The Republicans have shown that they are against anything that Obama is for, even keeping payroll taxes low. That's right. They want to keep the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy, but repeal the tax cut working people received this year when the payroll tax was reduced.

So what does the president get for proposing something "bipartisan" in a hyperpartisan political environment?


That's why he should go big, bold and confrontational. Enough madness is enough.

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