Skip to main content

The need for a real jobs plan from the President

Robert Reich, professor of public policy | June 14, 2011

Today the President met with business leaders on his “jobs and competitiveness council,” who suggested more public-private partnerships to train workers, less government red-tape in obtaining permits, and more jobs in travel and tourism, among other things. The President then toured a manufacturing plant in North Carolina, and made an eloquent speech about the need for more jobs.


Doesn’t the White House get it? The President has to have a bold jobs plan, with specifics. Why not exempt the first $20,000 of income from payroll taxes for the next year? Why not a new WPA for the long-term unemployed, and a Civilian Conservation Corps for the legions of young jobless Americans? Why not allow people to declare bankruptcy on their primary residences, and thereby reorganize their mortgage debt?

Or a hundred other ways to boost demand.

Fluff won’t get us anywhere. In fact, it creates a policy vacuum that will be filled by Republicans intent on convincing Americans that cutting federal spending and reducing taxes on the rich will create jobs.

Most Americans are smart enough to see through this. But if the Republican snake oil is the only remedy being offered, some people will buy it. And if the President and Democrats on Capitol Hill continue to obsess about reaching an agreement to raise the debt limit, they risk making the snake oil seem like a legitimate cure.

The puff balls being offered by the CEOs on the President’s jobs and competitiveness council are hardly a substitute. These CEOs won’t suggest hard-ball ideas to boost demand. Why should they? Their companies rely less and less on consumers in the United States – and, for that matter, on American workers. For several years now, these companies’ foreign sales have been growing faster than their US sales and they’ve been creating more jobs abroad than here.

Consider GE, whose Chairman and CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, is also the chairman of the President’s jobs council. By the end of last year, 54 percent of GE’s 287,000 employees worked outside the United States. That’s a turnaround from as recently as 2005, when a majority of the firm’s workers were still located in the United States.

GE and the other companies represented on the President’s jobs council will continue to do fine regardless of shriveled demand in the United States. But unless demand is boosted here, American workers will continue to be hard hit.

If the choice is between Republican snake oil and the puff balls of the President’s job’s council, America will be in deeper and deeper trouble. So will the President.

Cross-posted from Robert Reich’s blog.

Comments to “The need for a real jobs plan from the President

  1. Can you take a look at your ‘recommendations’ and identify if they are simply wealth redistribution or wealth creation? When you come up with one idea that is wealth creation (i.e. new business opportunities, new markets, etc.), then let us know. Else all your opinings will be left in the dust where they belong. Good for rhetoric, poor on real value.

  2. The way to create enough jobs for everyone who wants to work is to purge all republicans from Washington forever.

    The democrats must immediately expose all the special interests and the republicans they own so that people know why our unemployment statistics are out of control.

    People must understand clearly before the 2012 election that republicans are owned by the rich who Bush and the republicans gave $Trillions in tax breaks to. The republicans betrayed the middle class and the poor (who are rapidly increasing in numbers) who are paying the taxes the rich don’t pay.

    The paramount fact is that entire republican party is dedicated to continuing the destruction of social security, medicare, education, health, economic stability, American industry and jobs and The American Way of Life.
    Each of the republican special interests must also be exposed for the numbers of jobs and manufacturing they have exported to other countries, along with the republicans who perpetuate all of these betrayals.

    The 2011 republican betrayals of America are the worst in history, and it’s time that the republicans became extinct before they destroy the American Way of Life.

    It’s time for the democrats to fight back, or surrender America to permanent destruction by the GOP.

    • P.S. Robert, I submit this as a very rough draft for a new Declaration of Independence, which is required during this time when the challenges of change have overwhelmed all of our institutional leaders to the point where political, economic and social calamities are once again possible like they were in 1776.

      Your posts have proven that you are the right intellectual, in the right place and at the right time to create a new version of Declaration just like Thomas Jefferson did under similar circumstances (this time with threats to American Democracy by Republicans instead of Tories), and I request your dedication to writing a new Declaration to win back America for We The People in 2012.

Comments are closed.