President Obama came out—finally—with a jobs bill last week. Members of Congress, who have not passed a single jobs bill of their own, immediately started to pick at it. Republicans thought it spent too much, some Democrats thought it was not bold enough. And so it begins again. The endless tussling, the fighting, the political partisanship and games have started. While most disguise their partisanship with polished phrases, one senior Republican aide actually told the truth straight-out when he told Politico, “Obama is on the ropes. Why do we appear ready to hand him a win?”
And meanwhile, millions of Americans wait, either jobless or feeling insecure about their own jobs. The millions who are unemployed worry about unemployment benefits ending, and about how to find work in a country that keeps focusing just on deficits, and on cutting jobs instead of growing them. America lost eight million jobs in the Recession, but the economy had been growing jobs until last month. All of the cutting led to zero job growth last month. In their zeal to cut budgets and jobs, our leaders forgot a basic rule for economic growth. There has to be consumer demand for businesses to grow. Consumer demand is 70% of our economy. If people aren’t working, they cannot spend. The best way to reduce deficits is to grow the economy, not to just slash spending and lay off government and private workers. And for those who always say the government does not create jobs, just ask government workers who lost theirs. Ask companies that rely on government contracts, and ask their employees if government creates jobs.
The President’s plan invests in the economy, and offers many of the ideas that each party has embraced in the past. There are tax cuts in there for individuals and for businesses. Although I worry about the payroll tax reduction because I believe it could ultimately weaken Social Security, I also know that we have hit a red light in our economic recovery, and I think compromise is essential if we are going to move forward. Most economists have been positive about the president’s plan, USA Today reported, and that includes being positive about those payroll tax cuts. “Payroll tax cuts are very powerful," said Allen Sinai, chief economist of Decision Economics. "They provide a boost to direct income and, in turn, spending, which is important to growth." The newspaper also covered Mark Zandi’s supportive comments. Zandi was John McCain’s economic advisor during his campaign for president, and is now the chief economist at Moody's Analytics. The paper said that Zandi “estimated that the president's plan would boost economic growth by 2 percentage points, add 2 million jobs and reduce unemployment by a full percentage point next year compared with existing law.” There is a possibility that President Obama is wrong, and that these economists are also wrong. But given the current situation we find ourselves in, doing nothing or continuing to just slash spending and slash jobs presents the greater danger.
We have to take care of the unemployed veterans who cannot find work, especially the wounded. This bill does that. We have to work on infrastructure and put construction workers back on the job. This bill does that. We have to protect unemployment insurance for 6 million people, while trying new and innovative programs to get them back to work. This bill does that. We have to help small businesses with their taxes and we also have to help them compete on infrastructure projects. This bill does that. We need to keep cops and firefighters on the job. This bill does that. And we need to create jobs for low-income youth and adults, who cannot get a leg up into the middle class if there is no work. This bill does that also. There is finally a plan on the table, an idea to move our country out of the quicksand. This bill is not the one the Republicans would have written, if they had written one at all. It is not the one that will get a ringing endorsement from all of the Democrats in Washington. It is the bill that requires compromise and working together. Pass this bill.
Former Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter represented New Hampshire’s First District from 2007-2011, she is seeking a third term in the November, 2012 election. She wrote the proposal for and established a non-profit, social service agency, which continues to serve all ages. She taught politics and history and is a strong supporter of Medicare and Social Security.