With unemployment at 10.2% and the apparent failure of the $787 billion stimulus bill to adequately create/save jobs or gas the economy, the focus now of House Democrats is on jobs creation. The Jobs Now Caucus, with 161 representatives, is spearheading the effort. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) is co-chairwoman of the bipartisan caucus.
According to The Hill:
'Kaptur said Congress has not spent enough time this year on job creation.
â€œRemember, weâ€™ve had many other issues this year, and this has not got the kind of focus members have been hoping for,â€ she said.'
Ah, yes, 'many other issues' - like millions of jobs lost. Glad to hear that you are now getting down to brass tacks, Marcy.
Democrats in both the House and the Senate are talking about new business loans for small businesses, hiring tax credits, and infrastructure investments. There is also discussion about a new federal unemployment benefits extension, which may be part of a fix-it bill to rectify the deadline problem in the previous unemployment extension which meant that citizens in high-unemployment states couldn't claim their extra 6 weeks of benefits.
I'm glad to hear about this. Unemployment assistance provides direct bottom-up stimulus, while small businesses are the prime drivers of the economy in terms of employment.
Republicans often cite the failure of the stimulus bill (The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) to create jobs. According to Recovery.gov the stimulus has created or saved just over 640,000 jobs. Indirect economic impact of the stimulus is around 1 million jobs created or saved, according to the White House and independent economists from both Moody's and the Congressional Budget Office. I have no idea if these figures are accurate or not - clearly the stimulus has had some impact.
But in the face of a few million jobs lost since the recession started, these numbers pale. One of the reasons is perhaps the not-oft-cited fact that a mere $220 billion of the $787 billion funds allotted in the stimulus bill has actually been spent. If the money isn't being spent it can't stimulate anything. (To be fair, $84.8 billion has been "spent" in the form of tax benefits, for which there is $288 billion allotted. Presumably once tax return time for 2009 rolls around next April this tax relief will be realized.)
I'm not sure what the best economic stimulus is - I'm not an economist. But common sense tells me that direct, bottom-up stimulus is the best way to actually get the economy moving, i.e. people spending money. Spending means goods and services, which means jobs. I'm oversimplifying, I know, but this current method of big government contracts awarded after long struggles with red tape isn't the most efficient way to go about this. Sure, it helps some people in some areas. But it's slow, prone to corruption, and focused on very specific areas.
Do we need another unemployment benefits extension? What about a jobs bill? Do the other measures - SMB loans, tax credits, infrastructure spending - make sense to you?
If not what should the government be doing to address high unemployment?
- Unemployment extension considered as part of jobs bill
- Senate Dems propose work-share program
- Minnesota one of 23 states facing unemployment funding deficit
- President Obama to hold jobs summit in December
- Unemployment benefits delayed in Michigan
- Flawed unemployment extension legislation means potential "fix-it" bill
- Unemployment rate hits 10.2% nationwide
- President Obama signs unemployment extension bill HR 3548 into law
- House passes unemployment extension bill HR 3548 by vote of 403-12
- Senate passes unemployment extension by unanimous vote
- Unemployment benefits extension Senate vote inches toward finish line
- Unemployment extension cloture vote to be held in Senate
- GOP stalling on unemployment extension bill
- Senate votes 85-2 to hold final unemployment extension vote