THE JOBS ARE COMING! THE JOBS ARE COMING! OR ARE THEY?

By Charles Bayer

Now that things have calmed down a bit following the futility of the debt-cap fiasco, it is time the political wizards turned to job creation.  That, after all, is the blood spurting from America’s economic arteries.  

The conservative solution has always been “Don’t raise taxes—especially on the already wealthy.”  The uncertainty of tax increases, they opine, is the reason why the already affluent have been hesitant to invest in job creating businesses.  Well, the threat is suspended for the foreseeable future.  Taxes on the wealthy will not be increased soon.  

Now, if that is the conservative mechanism for job creation, one wonders where all these new jobs are?  After all, the Bush tax cuts have been in effect for almost a decade, and their influence has provided only the loss of jobs.  Economists tell us we are now on the brink of a double dip recession.  At least we are witnessing a stagnant economic future.

The problem is not the lack of available money in the hands of potential job creators.  They have the lion’s share of America’s wealth now.  They don’t need more.  Their almost three trillions in the bank are going almost exclusively to overseas jobs, to the repurchase of their owns stocks, and to dividends.

America does not have a supply problem.  It has a demand problem. The American consumer is where the financial lack lies.  If people don’t have money to buy, nobody is going to manufacture things that they cannot sell.  The question is, therefore, how do we get purchasing power into the hands of potential consumers?

We have been through this before.  After a false start with attempted budget cuts, FDR realized that the nation was being driven back into a continued depression, so he put America to work.  When the recession following the war hit, D.D. Eisenhower devised the Interstate Highway System and gave millions of Americans good paying jobs.  LBJ, in addition to Great Society jobs, generated a housing boom, realizing that the building, sale and occupation of homes is always necessary to break out of a recession.

Most economists know that in a financial crisis government may be the only source of new jobs.  While dealing with the long-term deficit is important, the immediate problem can only be solved by government economic intervention. Obama’s modest effort to ignite the economy faltered by being much too little, and was thus branded a failure by his opponents.

The needs are there.  What if we decided to rebuild America’s rail system, our decaying sewer system, dilapidated bridges, and the rest of the infrastructure?  There would be millions of new jobs.  And that may be the only responsible answer to deficits.

The short-term solution is to awaken the American people to the pickle we are in.  While I share the Democratic Party’s left in its disappointment over what Obama hasn’t produced, I lay the blame not on him, but on they way those who elected him ran for cover and allowed the Tea Party et al to take over the House in the 2010 election, almost without resistance.  While very conservative funding sources were putting big bucks into almost every campaign, we progressives, sat back and let it happen.  And when the conservatives discovered the budget deficit and debt cap issues, which were hardly new, they got hold of a gold plated way to inspire terror in the hearts of the middle-class.

No one should expect conservatives to devise an effective job-creating strategy before the next election.  The fixation on cutting the government’s ability to create jobs seems to be currently a winning issue, and I doubt if the six they appoint to the new commission will budge from that preoccupation. So if the problem is economic, perhaps the solution is political.