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Tilting at Windmills

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November 11, 2009

A JOBS BILL ON THE AGENDA?.... Federal Reserve officials warned yesterday that unemployment will "likely will remain high for the next several years because the economic recovery won't be strong enough to spur robust hiring."

It's a problem that has prompted some congressional leaders to consider a new jobs bill.

Senate Democrats will take up a new job-creation bill in the wake of the 10.2 percent unemployment rate, Majority Leader Harry Reid told his colleagues Tuesday.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) told The Hill that Reid (D-Nev.) made the announcement about a new jobs bill at the Senate Democrats' weekly lunch.

Reid said he was looking at an initiative focused on job creation "and that our caucus will take it up," Cardin said.

Reid didn't specify what would be in the bill, but he said that it was going to be "one of the priorities" for the Senate, Cardin added.

Now, there's no indication of when we might see a jobs bill. Or what will be in it. Or what it would cost. Or what its legislative prospects might be.

For that matter, it's not clear how much Reid emphasized the idea yesterday -- The Hill ran a fairly lengthy report, but I haven't seen similar reporting from the other outlets. If there was a concerted push about a major new employment initiative, it seems likely there'd be more attention focused on this.

That said, I can only hope this talk continues. We'll no doubt hear talk of a "second" stimulus -- or "third," if you count Bush's useless package from early 2008 -- but the demand for a jobs bill should be obvious. The recovery efforts from earlier this year rescued the economy from a depression, and helped bring some stability to an economy on the brink. Given the severity of the economic downturn policymakers inherited, a bold, ambitious jobs bill can make a huge difference -- the stimulus got us out of the ditch, a new effort can get us going in the right direction again.

The politics, of course, will be painful. Center-right Democrats say they want a focus on the employment picture. Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-N.C.) said last week, "Three things ought to be the top priority: jobs, jobs and jobs." Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) added, "[J]obs should be our top priority and we shouldn't do anything that detracts from that."

But what will they, and others like them, say if/when a new jobs bill (cue scary music) requires federal investment? Will conservatives, once again, say that deficit reduction should take precedence over additional economic recovery efforts?

Steve Benen 10:15 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (30)

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for a real jobs bill we'll need a grayson-like commentator "bringing out the dead" in the media for awhile to get the clown car's attention...

Posted by: neill on November 11, 2009 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

Given that unemployment is running twice the official rate, this should be a no-brainer. However, given that Washington is all about deals and talking points, it will either not happen or only in some mutant form to enrich a few chosen donors.

Rethuglicans will certainly oppose any jobs bill because it would make their odds longer for any electoral gains, so expect more 'dire threats to liberty',and genuflecting to the fascist extreme. Since the dems will be looking to build a scam into any bill, nothing could happen before 2012.

Posted by: TulsaTime on November 11, 2009 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

Just exactly what kind of jobs bill are they talking about? We have already put Wall Street back to work. The stimulus package is putting every road worker in the country to work on over time. We are rebuilding Federal offices right and left. We are funding State government employment.

It would seem to me that the climate bill and green energy offer the greatest promise for new jobs. I would like to know just how and where the money will be spent.

Posted by: Ron Byers on November 11, 2009 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

If this "jobs bill" turns out to consist primarily of business tax breaks, then I'll make this guarantee right now -- it won't work.

Posted by: Chris on November 11, 2009 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

Why not a WPA?

Posted by: Ohioan on November 11, 2009 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

A jobs bill that would work to revamp our infrastructure to take advantage of green energy sources would, to my thinking, pay for itself over time.

The lack of a useful distributive structure is really the main reason we in the US have not exploited regional green sources, our mindset forced to exploit dirty coal and nuke plants for local power.

References:

January 2008 and November 2009 issues of Scientific American.

Posted by: IntelVet on November 11, 2009 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with Ron, as new job creation in green energy was part of Obama's talking points and promises. If we're going to spend, let's spend for long term job creation and not perhaps quick fixes. We can kill 2 birds with one stone and address climate change and jobs all at once, why fight twice? Unemployment remained at 10%+ for 10 months during the Raygun years.

Posted by: Dave on November 11, 2009 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

A jobs bill that would work to revamp our infrastructure to take advantage of green energy sources would, to my thinking, pay for itself over time.

The lack of a useful distributive structure is really the main reason we in the US have not exploited regional green sources, our mindset forced to exploit dirty coal and nuke plants for local power.

References:

January 2008 and November 2009 issues of Scientific American.

Posted by: IntelVet on November 11, 2009 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

They ought to cut the payroll tax. I know this is not necessarily the first choice of a lot of progressives -- and it wouldn't be my first choice if we're talking about the long term (I'd personally opt for massive investments in transit, HCR, and green energy technology). But we're not talking about the long term. We're talking about potentially catastrophic political losses in a little over eleven months.

A temporary, but fairly large cut in payroll taxes -- automatically phased out over, say, 2.5 years as the economy strengthens -- would increase hiring and decrease layoff at the margin.

I'd personally go pretty aggressive: about a 70% cut in the employer-paid portion starting ASAP (by January 1?) and gradually phasing out to zero by the middle of 2012. I've done the math -- we'd be looking at roughly a $300 billion shot in the arm -- a straightforward decrease in the cost of employing people -- most of it front loaded between now and the midterms.

We're actually not that far as it stands now from having net job creation -- job losses have decreased by something like 70% since Obama took office IIRC.

We just need to speed things up. A payroll tax is probably the easiest way to do this -- especially from an administrative stand point. And it can be up and running quickly.

And -- and this is key -- it doesn't have to be labeled as "spending" or "stimulus". Rather, we get to call it a freaking tax cut. And that makes it very hard for the GOP to oppose. And it also stops the cluck-clucking from the David Broders and David Brookses of the world (you know, the guys complaining about liberal overreach). And so it has the double benefit of favorably influencing the national media narrative.

Objections?

Posted by: Jasper on November 11, 2009 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

A jobs program? It is to laugh.

Not in a country where 'jobs' is instantly going to be translated into 'giving my hard-earned tax dollars to Them, to stand around and do nothing." or, especially if it's slated for infrastructure jobs, "giving my hard-earned dollars to mobbed up, overpaid, union workers to stand around and do nothing."

The median voter would volunteer to bail out the banks again before he allowed that to happen. Maybe if U6 tops 35%, and even then it's no better than coin-toss odds.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on November 11, 2009 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

We can kill 2 birds with one stone and address climate change and jobs all at once, why fight twice?

Because 40 percent of the Senate, about half the House, the major media and way too many Americans are dead set against anything that even implies that we might need to change our lifestyles ever so slightly. If you want a replay of healthcare, just try putting all our job-creation eggs in a green basket.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't keep pushing to do the right and sensible thing. It does mean that we'll need to also look at other job-creation bills that might actually pass.

Ugh, what am I saying? They'll vote against any job creation bill, anywhere, anytime.

Posted by: shortstop on November 11, 2009 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

Then let's not call it a green jobs creation bill. Let's call it "greening the government." Turn every federal office building as green as reasonably possible. New windows. New energy efficient electrical appliances, install solar panels, wind turbines, geothermal... whatever. Do it across the board. That will create jobs and certainly foster the green industries. At the same time, do more than offer rebates for energy efficient windows. Let's make solar panels and home wind turbines truly affordable. Offer huge incentives for private owners to green up their buildings, etc.

Posted by: Missouri Mule on November 11, 2009 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

A jobs bill centered around yet more government spending (and borrowing) is nothing but robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Cut taxes on small to medium businesses, you know, the businesses that employ more Americans than any other kind.

Posted by: Jayson on November 11, 2009 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

So sorry to be late to the party- because this is an easy one to hit out of the park:

The military is critically undermanned in this Time of War.

A $50,000 signing bonus would create millions of new jobs- and the Republicans would vote for it. Remember 'Support the Troops'?

And then there is the trickle down effect on the economy- coffin makers, prosthetic devices and wheelchair sales, yellow ribbons; oh the list goes on and on. . .

Posted by: DAY on November 11, 2009 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a fantastic talk on the need for stimulus “The Holy Grail of Macroeconomics: Lessons from Japan’s Great Recession”,
http://seekingalpha.com/article/172123-richard-koo-discusses-japan-s-lost-decade-and-the-u-s
Some of our moron Representatives should take a look at this as well. Long but well worth the time.

Posted by: JM on November 11, 2009 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

That doesn't mean we shouldn't keep pushing to do the right and sensible thing. It does mean that we'll need to also look at other job-creation bills that might actually pass.

Exactly.

I personally think predictions of impending doom for the Democrats are highly exaggerrated -- at least if they pass healthcare reform. HCR + a gradual strengthening of the economy in 2010 in my view give the Democrats a strong chance at a halfway decent outcome in November 2010 (in other words, normal, run-of the mill losses in Congress and at the state level as opposed to the 1994-style conservative tsunami Limbaugh and much of the MSM are salivating over).

Still, there are no guarantees, and we can't overlook the fact that, at the end of the day, the Democrats' strong showing in 2006 and 2008 means there are a lots of seats to defend in conservative parts of the country. And that makes the "big spending" and "socialist" labels more radioactive than usual.

Anyway, for better or worse, the administration failed to get its own people's recommendations written into law with respect to stimulus last winter, and now Democrats may well be forced to pay the price in lost congressional seats. So, given the difficulty of getting substantial new spending enacted to create jobs because of the aforementioned political situation, the way to go is temporary tax cuts tightly targeting job creation. In other words, enact a temporary cut in payroll taxes.

To put it another way, a temporary cut in payroll taxes will actually pass. Exactly how would Republicans oppose it?

Posted by: Jasper on November 11, 2009 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

This one is real simple folks.
1. PERMANANTLY change corporate tax rate to 10%.
2. Sign the pending free trade agreements
3. Enact a 20 year grace period of ZERO cap gains for VC funding on future energy development.
4. Utilize our own resources for current energy needs (natural gas).
Presto, the jobs will come and whoa more tax revenues via people working!
How about them apples y'all libs.

Posted by: Eric on November 11, 2009 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

It's funny, I keep seeing mention of the 1994 election outcomes. Folks you have to back to the 70's to understand our current political situation. This is the Carter years all over again.
My hunch is the majority of the Gen Y's making posts are quite lost as they never experienced that period. However, after they see the incumbent slaughter of 2010 they will start to understand.

Posted by: Eric on November 11, 2009 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK


Green jobs would be nice. Just about anything other than construction, which is about all I'm seeing in my city from the stimulus bill. I think construction workers are great, and some of the projects I've seen are needed, but surely there are other areas, like green technology or education, where money should be spent.

Posted by: Tom B. on November 11, 2009 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

Are you kidding me. What was the 787 billion dollar bill for? You are almost as clueless as the people that wrote the first one

Posted by: mike on November 11, 2009 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

It's funny, I keep seeing mention of the 1994 election outcomes. Folks you have to back to the 70's to understand our current political situation. This is the Carter years all over again.

Nonsense. The underlying fundamentals far more closely resemble those of the early 1930s -- and to some degree the first half of Reagan's first term -- than they do the high inflation late 1970s when Jimmy Carter was president. And yes, I'm old enough to remember both Carter and Reagan.

Posted by: Jasper on November 11, 2009 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Are you kidding me. What was the 787 billion dollar bill for?

It was to help keep the economy from descending into a horrendous deflation. And it largely worked. Job losses have fallen precipitously, and GDP is expanding again. Unfortunately it was about $400 billion too small, so it didn't work enough.

Posted by: Jasper on November 11, 2009 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Presto, the jobs will come...

How's the weather in Guangdong, eric?

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on November 11, 2009 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

The job cuts keep coming...
Sprint up to 2,500
EA 1,500
Pfizer 600
Novell 3% of staff + cuts benefits
Royal Dutch Shell thinking about 10% staff reduction

* Hey on the bright side: Obama creates 640,329 jobs... at a average cost $323,739.
(Funds paid out so far = $83.8 billion + $52.1 billion + $71.4 billion = $207.3 billion
$207,300,000,000 / 640,329 = $323,739.83 per job created)

How is that hope and change thing going...

Posted by: Eric on November 11, 2009 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

How is that hope and change thing going...

Quite well, thanks very much. Job losses were running about 700,000 a month, and the economy was shrinking, when Bush left office. With ten months of sane executive branch leadership behind us, job losses have decreased by about 70% and the economy is once again growing. And we're about to get healthcare reform enacted.

Posted by: Jasper on November 11, 2009 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

Lol, Jasper, keep drinking the cool aid my young gen-Y friend. He He He ....

Posted by: Eric on November 11, 2009 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

Read Steven Pearlstein's article (http://tinyurl.com/yfy8vee) about how there is no quick fix and the economy needs some time to deleverage. The government can make it smoother, but massive spending or tax cuts will not fix the problem. That is not something any politician ever wants to say, but a little gridlock might not be the worst thing.

Posted by: Brad on November 11, 2009 at 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

I will suggest again, listen to Koo's presentation available on Seeking Alpha (link above). Chief economist at Nomura, very enlightening. We need to spend, spend, spend becauuse NO ONE ELSE IS! This still holds-
GDP = C + I + G + (Ex - Im)

where “C” equals spending by consumers,
“I” equals investment by businesses,
“G” equals government spending and
“(Ex - Im)” equals net exports, that is, the value of exports minus imports. Net exports may be negative.

G is the only thing spending, without it we are taost.

Posted by: JM on November 12, 2009 at 8:10 AM | PERMALINK

i patent a unit that goes 75% farther on a gallon of gas. 67% less exhaust polution . no company owns it i just got the patent done and i will let it out now so anyone can get it , you keep your existing car and this does not work on electric cars . this is better because the power company doesnot emit more polution by chargeing up electric cars. and you dont pay high cost for a new electric car and fill the landfills up with acid batteries. this is on all makes and models . it works . 2% difference in polution on a allelectric car and a car with this new patent unit on it that pays for itself in 3 months on gas alone.

Posted by: douglas puckett on November 28, 2009 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: Sergio on February 19, 2010 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK
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