So You Want To Talk About Jobs?

Before leaving on vacation President Obama said he is going to talk about creating jobs in September. The latest word is he will give this speech next week. Campaign for America’s Future has put together some ideas for creating jobs. See our series Big Ideas To Get America Working:

The task is not simply to give the economy a stimulus, as if we were giving a charge to a dead car battery. We need to rebuild the engine and modernize the wiring, creating a new strategy for America in the global economy. We asked our writers and contributors to lay out the “big ideas” and framing you can use to push a jobs-first agenda to the forefront of the national debate.

Here is where we are: People need jobs and jobs fix deficits. We have to get people back to work and the American people deserve good-paying jobs, not just any new job at half the old wages. Lots and lots of regular people are not working or have settled for jobs that don’t offer enough hours or just don’t pay enough or provide benefits. And here’s a fact: people who are working are paying taxes, are not collecting unemployment and are less likely to be collecting food stamps, so putting people to work lowers deficits.
Of course people want their President to be reasonable and bipartisan and compromise to get things done, but more than that they want results. Mr.President, if you can’t get results any other way people want you to move the obstructers out of the way. Republicans in the Congress are blocking every effort to boost the economy and create new jobs – especially good-paying jobs. Many think they are doing this to sabotage Democratic chances in the coming elections.
Go Big
So, Mr. President, you have to take this to the public. Go big. Draw contrasts. Give the public a clear choice. You don’t have to propose something that Republicans will pass — because no matter what you propose, they won’t. Instead you have to bring forward proposals that will clearly put lots of Americans to work, so the public can decide what they want to do.
Above all, it is time to be reality-based in the approach. The country is sick of spin and propaganda and putting the best face on things. Reality and good policy are the best politics. Here are some “reality-based” ideas to help get this going.

  • Reality: Millions of Americans are out of work or are working in low-paying jobs and outside of the DC area it is not getting better.
  • Reality: Getting people back to work lowers deficits because they are paying taxes and require fewer government services.
  • Reality: Tariffs on goods made by exploited workers in exploited environments = jobs and good wages here. Our trade agreements have created huge trade deficits that are draining our economy. “Free trade” is a myth that has been used to drive wages down here, not to create trade partners who buy as much from us as they sell to us.
  • Reality: Other countries have national industrial/economic strategies. This means we increasingly send our companies out alone to compete with national systems and they won’t win that fight no matter how big they are.
  • Reality: Other countries use national domestic-content procurement policies, and we need a “Buy American” procurement policy.
  • Reality: For decades all income gains have gone to the top. This is distorting everything in our society and democracy.
  • Reality: Tax cuts for the rich cause deficits. They also incentivize predatory business models by rewarding get-rich-quick schemes over good, long-term, sustainable business strategies.
  • Reality: Climate change is real and it is serious and we have to address it. And addressing climate change means millions of green jobs will be created.

The same old same-old debt and bubble economy won’t work and got us into this mess. Last week in The Jobs Question, Robert Borosage described the problem:

Twenty-five million Americans are in need of full time work. One in four teenagers not in college can’t find a job. Wages aren’t keeping up with prices. Our trade deficit is rising, as more and more good jobs get shipped abroad. It’s projected that a staggering 48 percent of homes with mortgages could be underwater – worth less than the mortgage – by the end of the year.
Moreover, there is no recovery to an old, healthy economy. The old economy didn’t work for most Americans even when it was growing. The cancer was spreading before it metastasized in the financial panic. In the so-called Bush recovery years before the collapse, the few captured all the rewards of growth. The average income of the bottom 90% dropped. That economy was built on debt and bubbles. We were hemorrhaging manufacturing jobs and borrowing $2 billion a day from abroad. And we were in complete denial about global warming and the catastrophic climate changes that have already begun. We can’t recover to that old economy – and we wouldn’t want to.

Summary: The old way didn’t work and led to disaster. Don’t try to bring that back, thinking it will be better this time. We need a new vision, and new strategies.
So let’s get down to business. Here are the ideas presented in our Big Ideas To Get America Working series:
Today’s Big Idea To Get America Working: Fix The Housing Crisis by Liz Ryan Murray.
Today’s Big Idea to Get America Working: Hire the Young to Build Their Own Future by Richard (RJ) Eskow.
Today’s Big Idea To Get America Working: Revive American Manufacturing by Dave Johnson.
Today’s Big Idea To Get America Working: Make Work Pay by Anne Thompson.
Today’s Big Idea To Get America Working: Invest In Public Education by Jeff Bryant.
Big Ideas To Get America Working: Rebuild Our Infrastructure by Dave Johnson.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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One thought on “So You Want To Talk About Jobs?

  1. Totally agree with you, however I am not so sure it’s realistic, because the system is too corrupt and entrenched to change. In order for there to be change that will benefit the people, the rich and powerful have to comply, and presently there is no indication of that ever happening. I believe that before the economy can improve, there must be a drastic political change within the system, however the system controlled by the 1% will not allow that. Unfortunately, I see very little hope for our children.

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