Friday, November 9, 2012

Five Things Obama and Congress Can and Should Do on Jobs

Now the long campaign is over, and we're back to where we started - Obama as President, the House primarily Republican, and a Democratic Senate.  As a Chicago Tribune editorial sternly said, Obama needs to zero in on the issues and Republicans need to "work... with... him." 

So what would be the best?

1.     Start a wide-scale American infrastructure repair, modernization, and maintenance program.  Highways, roads, bridges, wi-fi, microwave towers, airports, sewer lines, and more.  The American Society of Civil Engineers in 2009 gave our national infrastructure a D, and the World Economic Forum dropped it from first worldwide in 2005 to 14th this year.  The deterioration must end, and both conservatives, who don’t want America to fall further by world standards, or liberals, who are most willing to spend the money, should pass bills to let it happen.

2.     Extend Obamacare to address both costs and the responsibility of employers.  Now that it’s not going to be repealed, we should work out ways to do what both sides have said American health policy needs to accomplish.  Cutting the connection between jobs and health care, which will need to happen within the next decade or so, needs attention soon, as do rising costs, which Obamacare really doesn’t address.  Is it true that better health practices can cut expenses in half, as Jim Clifton in The Coming Jobs War has maintained?  If not, why not?

3.     Lengthen unemployment benefits.  Those 55 and over and officially jobless have been looking for an average of over one year.  Give them and those younger more money and they will spend it, not save it.  Unemployment payments should run for a national term of 78 weeks, if not 104.  The stimulus effect will put a remarkable number of them back to work as well.

4.     Phase out farm subsidies.  Can’t we get a bipartisan coalition to do this, which Newsweek called “an easy one,” and many conservatives and liberals have called things you wouldn’t want to print?  There are now fewer full-time American farmers than full-time Big Ten undergraduate college students.  For whom are these bonanzas, which cost all of us $173.5 billion from 2002 to 2012?

5.     Remove any and all tax benefits for creating jobs overseas, and create them for companies that not only start but maintain positions in the United States.  Should also be a no-brainer.  Negotiate how much, and with what forms of taxes (payroll or corporate income), but put something on the track.  Soon.

Implement all five of these, and we will add several million jobs.  That won’t be enough to reverse the historical trend we are living through, but it will help millions of American families. 

It will also help all of our Washington politicians’ re-election chances.  It’s not too soon for them to think about those – is it?

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