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Obama’s jobs plan better be big

Robert Reich, professor of public policy | September 8, 2011

Today,  President Obama unveils his jobs plan.

He’ll choose either Plan A or Plan B.

Plan A would be big enough to restart the economy (now barely growing) and reduce unemployment (which continues to grow). That means spending another trillion dollars over the next two years – rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, creating a new WPA and Civilian Conservation Corps, and lending money to cash-starved states and cities.

Republicans will oppose it, of course. They’ll say the stimulus didn’t work the first time (they’re wrong – it saved 3 million jobs but it was way too small given the drop in consumer spending as well as budget cuts by states and cities), and we can’t afford it (wrong again – the yield on 10-year Treasury bills is now 2 percent, meaning this is the best time to borrow. And if growth isn’t restored soon, the debt/GDP ratio will balloon beyond belief). But their real hope is to keep the economy anemic through Election Day 2012 so voters will send Obama home.

That means the President would have to fight for it. He’d have to barnstorm the country, demanding Republican votes. He’d build his 2012 campaign around it, attacking the Republican “do nothing” Congress. He’d give ‘em hell.

Plan B would be a bunch of policy miniatures that would have almost no effect on the economy or employment but would nonetheless be good things to do (extending the Social Security tax cut, extending unemployment benefits, reauthorizing the highway building trust fund, giving employers a tax incentive to hire the long-term unemployed, ratifying trade agreements).

Republicans will oppose it, of course. They’ll say this is no time for new initiatives, that our biggest problem is the size of government, debt, and over-regulation. They’ve been saying almost exactly the same thing for eighty years.

The President would present each of his policy miniatures as a separate piece of legislation hoping to attract enough Republican votes to get something – anything – enacted and declare a victory. He’d then campaign as a leader who can “get things done,” even though the economy is still a basket case.

Which will it be — Plan A or B? Early indications suggest Plan B. The President is now saying his upcoming plan will generate “up to a million jobs.” But with 25 million Americans looking for full-time jobs that’s chump change.

Bad choice.

The night before the President lays out his jobs plan, Republican presidential hopefuls will be holding their first big debate.

The winner of the 2012 presidential election will be the person who comes off as the toughest fighter for average Americans.

Earth to Obama: Remember Harry (Give ‘em Hell) Truman.

Here’s Truman’s acceptance speech at the Philadelphia convention that nominated him prior to the 1948 election:

Senator Barkley and I will win this election and make those Republicans like it… We will do that because they are wrong and we are right… [T]he people know the Democratic Party is the people’s party, and the Republican Party is the party of special interests and it always has been and always will be… The Republican Party… favors the privileged few and not the common, every-day man. Ever since its inception that Party has been under the control of special privilege, and they concretely proved it in the 80th Congress. They proved it by the things they did to the people and not for them. They proved it by the things they failed to do.

Give em hell, Barack.

Cross-posted from Robert Reich’s blog.

Comments to “Obama’s jobs plan better be big

  1. Perhaps I am confused, but I do not see how dumping trillions of dollars into 3 million toxic assets is cosidered to be a “success.” A toxic asset is, by definition, an asset that no longer has a viable economic value. If these assets needed to be preserved by a government spending initiative because they were no longer viable on their own, then they are toxic.

    Economics is really pretty simple. Money is a direct representation of the value of the entirety of goods produced. By spending trillions of dollars that we don’t have, we as a country need to produce trillions of dollars of viable goods to make up for this loss and to prevent the collapse of the dollar. Spending another trillion dollars simply prolongs the suffering.

    So why suffer? To continue maintaining 3 million toxic assets while we complain that our country is no longer innovative and may no longer be a world power in the future? Perhaps if we stopped maintaining these toxic assets, forcing them to become innovative and to produce viable goods, the United States would not have to worry so much about no longer being a world power in the future.

  2. The real problem with job creation is, in order to create jobs, you need the people with the money to cooperate; in order to get the people with the money, you have to appeal to the Republicans; the Republicans have basically stated in no unclear terms since November 2008 that they won’t work with anyone except Republicans. Creating new public works projects is part of the puzzle, but it’s never going to be enough until the Republicans learn what ‘American labor’ actually is and start investing in it again instead of deriding it and shipping the money and jobs overseas. We’re glad to see more government agencies calling for Berry-compliant equipment (items made and assembled entirely in the United States), at least.

  3. There is a (french?) say:
    In a disperate situation, if you don’t know what to do,
    The US now is like the Roman Empire 400 AC. There are hungry, intelligent and resourcefull aliens waiting to inherite the US position and might. In 100 years US people may become the “barbarians” for some other nation and in 300 years this other nation will bow to somebody else. We cannot change this periodicity of power with military or economic means, alone. We need to change our people in being more effective, intelligent and educated. Lets learn from Finland and Singapoor.

    Obama might not know what to do best, but at least he (finally) got the picture: US goes downwards slowly but steadily.

  4. Wishing for Obama to find his long-lost backbone is fruitless; it is time for all hard working and underpaid American workers to tell Obama and organized Labor, that it is time to protect American jobs, by making it difficult, illegal and expensive for corporations to ship our jobs overseas and to replace us by hiring illegal immigrants.

  5. Dear Sir:

    Your article concerning the President’s jobs plan appears to be a tad simplistic. The “powers that be” had made it known many many months a go that “the jobs aren’t coming back.” Is it possible for you to inform us what the phrase ” hope and change” that President Obama had frequently coined many many months ago, really meant? It seems that we have no hope and this horrible change. It does not work for many many people,particularly the ones who no longer have jobs. Does the President either want to change this country into something it has never seen before or does he not know what he is doing?
    Why are the Republicans blamed for opposing an ideology that is not in synch with the former format of a typical economy that had been utilized and had worked in the past?
    Let’s have an administration who knows what a job is. We appear to have professors who are in college,sitting in ivory towers,devoid of practical experience of what a job is or how to make/construct jobs.

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