Friday, April 20, 2012

We Need Both Sides

Happy Friday!

What will Congress do about the jobs crisis?  It has not seriously addressed the issue, and it may not for a while.  What's more, they probably won't get too far when they do.  Why not?

More than in my memory (I'm 55), Congress is divided into two sides that are far apart.  I won't say "intractable," but they are both driving very hard bargains, and have not worked together well.  Last summer, President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner met a number of times to agree on a plan for the new budget.  Both gave away a lot, with Obama agreeing to cut entitlements and Boehner accepting significant tax increases.  They truly met in the middle.  However, the deal failed when neither could sell their plan to their side.  Even if both Democrats and Republicans agreed that the jobs crisis is permanent, the outcome of talks on it might be much the same as happened with the budget.

The good news is the employment situation does not require an immediate solution.  There are still 140 million jobs in the United States, and that number may increase (though not in relation to population) this year.  That means Congress, and by extension the rest of us, have time to implement improvements. 

By the end of the decade, most on both sides will at least strongly suspect that the number of jobs will never again match the number of people who want them, that it is more than just a recession or even a Great Recession (which, by the way, is long over - look at corporate sales, corporate profitability, and stock market performance) holding them back.   We are in Work's New Age, during which we will all see that we need ever-shrinking shares of American adults to work.

Can we adjust successfully to our new reality by using only conservative or liberal ideas?  NO!  Both sides have good and bad ones.  We are not going to ease this transition sufficiently, for example, by cutting taxes all around.  Nor will it help to squeeze businesses by mandating minimum wage and other pay increases.  On the other hand, a WPA-style infrastructure jobs project, along with an all-out cost-benefit assessment and repeal of many laws that inhibit jobs, would be greatly beneficial.

As I have said on the radio many times, the upcoming presidential election is not going to decide the issue.  It doesn't matter whether Mitt Romney is elected, or Obama again, or anyone else - if Congress will not negotiate, we will not go anywhere.  Can they do that?

I encourage your comments and discussion.  Agree or disagree, the most important thing we can do is realize we have a permanent problem, so put something down.   Have a great weekend!

No comments:

Post a Comment