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PORTSIDE  August 2011, Week 3

PORTSIDE August 2011, Week 3

Subject:

The President's Bold Jobs Bill (Maybe)

From:

Portside Moderator <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Fri, 19 Aug 2011 22:35:02 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (142 lines)

The President's Bold Jobs Bill (Maybe)

Robert Reich
August 18, 2011
http://robertreich.org/post/9052468462

The President is sounding like a fighter these days. He
even says he'll be proposing a jobs bill in September -
and if Republicans don't go along he'll fight for it
through Election Day (or beyond).

That's a start. But read the small print and all he's
talked about so far is extending the payroll tax cut and
unemployment benefits (good, but small potatoes),
ratifying the Columbia and South Korea free trade
agreements (not necessarily a job-creating move), and
creating an infrastructure bank.

An infrastructure bank might be helpful, depending on
its size.

Which is the real question hovering over the entire
putative jobs bill - its size.

Some of the President's political advisors have been
pushing for small-bore initiatives that they believe
might have a chance of getting through the Republican
just-say-no House. They also figure policy miniatures
won't give aspiring GOP candidates more ammunition to
tar Obama as a big-government liberal.

But the President is sounding as if he's rejected their
advice.

That's good policy and good politics.

Good policy because any jobs bill has to be big enough
to give the economy the boost it needs to get out of the
gravitational pull of the Great Recession.

Right now all the old booster rockets are gone. The
original stimulus is over. The Fed's "quantitative
easing" is over.

Combine the budget cuts state and local governments
continue to make with the slowdown in consumer spending,
the reluctance of businesses to expand or hire, and the
magnitude of unemployment and under-employment, and you
need a big new booster rocket. I'd estimate the
shortfall in aggregate demand to be $300 billion to $500
billion this year alone.

A bold jobs plan is also good politics. With more than
25 million Americans looking for full-time jobs, the
wages of people with jobs falling, and an economy on the
verge of a double dip, the President has to come out
fighting on the side of average people.

Besides, Republicans won't go along with any jobs
initiative he proposes - even a tiny one. Better they
reject one that could make a real difference than one
that's pitifully small and symbolic.

If Republicans reject it, Obama can build his 2012
campaign around that fight. Maybe he'll even call
Republicans on their big lie that smaller government
leads to more jobs.

What would a bold jobs bill look like? Here are the ten
components I'd recommend (apologies to those of you who
have read some of these before):

1. Exempt first $20K of income from payroll taxes for
two years. Make up shortfall by raising ceiling on
income subject to payroll taxes.

2. Recreate the WPA and Civilian Conservation Corps to
put long-term unemployed directly to work.

3. Create an infrastructure bank authorized to borrow
$300 billion a year to repair and upgrade the nation's
roads, bridges, ports, airports, school buildings, and
water and sewer systems.

4. Amend bankruptcy laws to allow distressed homeowners
to declare bankruptcy on their primary residence, so
they can reorganize their mortgage loans.

5. Allow distressed homeowners to sell a portion of
their mortgages to the FHA, which would take a
proportionate share of any upside gains when the homes
are sold.

6. Provide tax incentive to employers who create net new
jobs ($2,500 deduction for every net new job created).

7. Make low-interest loans to cash-starved states and
cities, so they don't have to lay off teachers, fire
fighters, police officers, and reduce other critical
public services.

8. Provide partial unemployment benefits to people who
have lost part-time jobs.

9. Enlarge and expand the Earned Income Tax Credit - a
wage subsidy for low-wage work.

10. Impose a "severance fee" on any large business that
lays off an American worker and outsources the job
abroad.

Some of these won't cost the federal government money.
Others will be costly in the short term but lead to
faster growth.

Remember: Faster growth means a more manageable debt in
the long term. Which means the President could tie this
(or any other jobs bill of similar magnitude) to an even
more ambitious long-term debt-reduction plan than he's
already proposed.

A bold jobs bill is good politics and good policy. Let's
wait to see what the President actually proposes.

___________________________________________

Portside aims to provide material of interest to people
on the left that will help them to interpret the world
and to change it.

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