Everyone who’s in touch with the world knows we’ve got a jobs crisis and that it’s likely to continue for some considerable time.
Just about everyone thinks the federal government should do something about it. Needless to say, there are wide differences of opinion on what. The Republican leadership says that the answer is to cut back on taxes, spending and regulations.
Progressives say, on the contrary, that the government needs to plow more money into the economy–that if it doesn’t invest in job creation, the economy will leave lasting scars on the economic prospects for individuals and our economy as a whole.
They also recognize that the recession has exposed long-standing systemic problems that have depressed real income growth among a large sector of workers and left others on the sidelines, relegated to low-wage, no-benefit, often part-time jobs or out of the labor market altogether.
Some major organizations have come out with job creation plans that will put people back to work quickly and, at the same time, help the jobless keep the wolf from the door.
The Coalition on Human Needs has a set of job creation principles. The National Council of La Raza has recommendations reflecting Latino principles for job creation. The Economic Policy Institute has a detailed five-point plan. The AFL-CIO has one also.
These are all very similar in spirit and the last two in substance. They are reflected in yet another job creation plan issued by Jobs for America Now–a coalition the organizations helped launch.
The coalition, now more than 150 organizations strong, calls on the administration and Congress to:
- Provide relief through continued and expanded unemployment benefits, COBRA and SNAP (the food stamps program).
- Extend substantial fiscal relief to state and local governments.
- Create jobs that put people to work helping communities meet pressing needs, including distressed communities that face severe unemployment.
- Invest in infrastructure improvements in schools, transportation and energy efficiency, thus providing jobs in the short run and productivity enhancements in the longer run.
- Spur private-sector job growth through innovative incentives and providing credit to small and medium-sized businesses.
There’s no price tag on all this. However, EPI estimated that its plan would entail roughly $400 billion in investments during the first year. About $160 billion of this would be recouped in higher tax revenues and lower safety net costs.
To pay for the rest, EPI recommends a financial transactions tax, i.e., a small tax that would be imposed whenever stocks and possibly other financial assets changed hands. The tax would kick in two years from now, when presumably the economy will have fully recovered.
But first the deficit would grow. Does President Obama have the stomach for this?
Much appears to depend on how his strategists read the mood of the public–and more particularly, the upset in Massachusetts. Thus far, the prospects don’t look good.
Not a hint that “the anger and frustration that people are feeling” stems from our justified dismay about the jobs crisis–and the fact that it’s still nowhere on that must-do agenda.