Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Why "The J Word" Matters

Yesterday, US Labor Secretary Hilda Solis came here to Las Vegas to explain how the American Jobs Act will make an impact on Nevada's beleaguered economy once passed.

President Obama’s jobs plan would have a significant positive effect on Southern Nevada’s economy by putting construction laborers back to work, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said today in Las Vegas.

Solis met with the Las Vegas Sun editorial board following an appearance before the Laborers’ International Union of North America at Paris Las Vegas.

Solis said she expects Obama’s $447 billion jobs plan, unveiled to a joint session of Congress on Thursday and detailed in a bill sent to legislators today, to garner bipartisan support because it uses ideas from both sides of the political aisle.

“Economists say anywhere from 1 million to 1.9 million workers in the construction industry (would be put to work),” Solis said. “That would have an immediate impact on places like Nevada, particularly here (in Las Vegas) where the housing boom was the hardest hit.”

Obama’s proposal includes tax breaks for small businesses, economic stimulus programs and a national infrastructure “bank” to fund roads, bridges, airports, seaports, railways, refineries and to upgrade schools. The president has proposed reducing tax deductions, modifying entitlement programs and increasing taxes on the most wealthy to pay for those programs.

It's a broad ranging piece of legislation that tackles job creation from multiple angles...

Yet House Republicans are already set to reject it and start another possible government shutdown melodrama, even as some progressive Democrats in the House are complaining that it isn't enough. However, one prominent voice in DC rose to say something that Congressional Republicans really did not want to hear.

"If policymakers want to achieve both a short-term economic boost and long-term fiscal sustainability the combination of policies that would be most effective according to our analysis would be changes in taxes and spending that would widen the deficit today, but narrow it in the coming decade," [Congressional Budget Office chief Doug] Elmendorf told the panel's 12 Democrats and Republicans. "The combination of fiscal policies that would be most effective would be policies that cut taxes or increase spending in the near-term, but over the medium and longer-term move in the opposite direction."

This is a generalized version of precisely what President Obama is proposing -- a $447 billion jobs bill that will increase spending on hiring programs, and reduce payroll taxes; accompanied by deficit reduction measures that take effect in 2013, to more than cover the cost of the jobs bill.

As we've talked about before, "austerity" does nothing but harm fragile economies in need of investment to recover and grow again. Yet even as top IMF economists point this out to the world, this is what we hear from the Republicans seeking to defeat President Obama next year.

Cheering on the deaths of the uninsured? Arguing over the value of Social Security? And while the Republicans keep playing in "Tea Party Fantasyland", a record 46.2 million Americans were hit by poverty last year. If there is ever a time to shift into overdrive to focus on job creation and put money in people's pockets again, it's now. But instead of offering any credible ideas on that, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and their enablers on Capitol Hill would rather obsess over "Tea Party" fantasies that would further destroy America's middle class, like ending Social Security and scrapping health care reform. (No wonder why Perry's and Romney's poll numbers are dropping like rocks!)

This is the great disconnect. For far too long, it seemed like far too many policy makers in The Beltway were obsessing over issues that "Middle America" couldn't care less about while they were out of work and asking where the jobs are. But while President Obama is reaching out to "Middle America" to explain what the American Jobs Act will do to help them get the work they need to rejoin the middle class, Republicans yet again seem to care more about pleasing teabaggers than actually doing their job.

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