The President is pushing a jobs agenda to grow the economy "from the middle out." Insider DC is mocking him because the ideas -- infrastructure, American manufacturing, fund our schools -- are not "new." Here is what else isn't new: budget cuts take money out of the economy, costing millions of jobs and harming our country's future competitiveness.
The President's Jobs Campaign
The President has launched a series of weekly campaign-style speeches pushing jobs instead of austerity. He is again trying to break the DC logjam. But this time he is starting to name the problem so the public can bring pressure to bear where it is needed. The idea is to pressure Republicans to back off their insistence on cutting government and start supporting programs that will bring jobs, higher wages and some degree of security to American workers.
But before we can move forward we have to stop backing up. That means we have to stop cutting back.
Cuts That Cut
In a democracy government spending is, by definition, things that We the People decide to do to make our lives better. But instead of supporting doing things that make our lives better Republicans have been forcing cuts in government so taxes can be lower for the wealthy few. They have even been using hostage tactics to force those cuts. They keep losing elections but are using their ability to block and obstruct things to keep the country from moving forward.
The "Sequester" in particular is damaging the country. The Sequester is that DC "debt-ceiling" deal that got the Republicans to back off their threat to force the government to default on its obligations, thereby ruining our credit rating and risking the takedown of the world's economy. The Sequester cuts $1.2 trillion more (on top of trillions already cut through other deals) from the economy over the next decade. It cuts Meals on Wheels, cancer clinics, medical research, housing assistance and all kinds of other important things We the People do to make our lives better.
(Note that cutting things like Meals on Wheels actually increases costs by forcing elderly people into nursing homes, hospitals, etc...)
How hard is the Sequester hitting? The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) just released a study showing that as many as 1.6 million jobs are being cut from the economy by the sequester.
Instead of cutting the economy, let's rebuild our country's competitiveness starting with modernizing our infrastructure.
Infrastructure Repair Is Jobs
The President's plan begins with a push to start modernizing our country's infrastructure. In Jacksonville last week the President made his pitch, saying,
"We know strong infrastructure is a key ingredient to a thriving economy," Obama said, citing the need, for instance, to prepare ports like Jacksonville's for oncoming "supertanker" shipments. "Unfortunately, over the past few years, too many folks have been cutting these investments in Washington."
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) "2013 Infrastructure Report Card" rates our country's infrrastrcuture at D+ and calculates we need to spend $3.6 trillion by 2020 to bring it up to par.
Do the math: if we spent the needed $3.6 trillion to fix the infrastructure how many jobs would that create between now and 2020? How many people would be hired for the construction and retrofitting? How about people hired for the design and engineering? Don't forget to add in jobs created at supplier companies, with the "Buy America" requirements on procurement of the supplies used in this effort -- and the companies that supply them.
These are good jobs, with good wages and benefits. So while you are at it add in the jobs created at all the places where all of those workers with good jobs that pay good wages and provide good benefits will spend their earnings. And then add in the jobs created when those workers rejoin the economy, too.
So do that math: it's a lot of jobs. In fact, it would hire up everyone who wants work which would bring pressure to increase the pay of everyone already working.
And, of course, after that work is done, the economy is moving forward on its shiny, new, modern infrastructure, propelled by all those people with good jobs and good wages.
Republicans want cuts in government so the wealthy can have tax cuts. Here's the thing. After the cuts and the tax cuts all you have to show for it is a ruined economy and debt -- which is what we see around us today. But after you modernize the infrastructure what you have to show for it is full employment and a moden economy humming along on its modern infrastructure.
Yes, this is an "old idea." There is a reason it keeps coming up over and over again. A good reason.
So I say good for the Prsident for this campaign to bring jobs and modernization to our economy. It's a start.