Congress should pass the jobs bill
On the day of President Obama's much-awaited jobs speech 1,100 of the nation's 14 million unemployed thronged a jobs fair held at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord. They were among the people the president referred to that night when he said many Americans are "living week to week, paycheck to paycheck, even day to day."
"This is the last month I am able to stay above the finances," a single mother told Monitor columnist Ray Duckler. Another single mother seeking a job placed her stress level, on a scale of 0 to 10, at 10-plus.
The nation's stagnant economy created no new jobs in August. Economists had predicted an addition of 75,000 - 50,000, less than is needed each month just to accommodate people entering the workforce. The national unemployment rate remains stuck at dismal 9.1 percent and appears as likely to rise as to fall.
The jobs bill the president outlined Thursday is modest. The most optimistic economists say it could create up to 2 million jobs and boost economic growth by 2 percent. It consists almost entirely of proposals made or endorsed in the past by Republicans as well as Democrats, steps like lowering the payroll tax for both workers and small businesses, spending to rebuild the nation's infrastructure, and aid to states to help retain or rehire teachers, firefighters, police and other public employees.
We urge Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Reps. Charlie Bass and Frank Guinta to put partisanship aside and vote to pass the jobs bill. Do nothing and the crowd at the next jobs fair will be even bigger, the suffering greater.
In their brief responses to the president's speech, all three stuck to Republican Party talking points. They opposed additional government spending to stimulate the economy and called instead for tax cuts for business and the easing of regulations.
Guinta was particularly scornful of the president's proposals, calling them "failed policy" and his words "empty eloquence." Yet Guinta went on to call for aid for "job creators" as if there were a Santa's workshop somewhere where elves hammer business tax cuts and rejected regulations into jobs. The problem is not tax policy or regulations but a lack of demand for what business sells. What the economy needs in order to create jobs are policies that put money in people's pockets quickly, and spending that puts people back to work by rebuilding the nation's infrastructure and educating the nation's children.
If Republicans refuse to act on his jobs plan, the president promised to take his message "to every corner of the country." Judging by the response of this state's congressional delegation, the president should plan on a trip to New Hampshire soon.
The president promised to pay for the $450 billion jobs act with spending cuts he will announce soon. Those cuts can probably be made without abandoning those who need the nation's help, but if not, money spent to rebuild roads, bridges and schools should be borrowed. The federal government can currently borrow at less than 2 percent interest. If Congress can't figure how to invest money at that rate in ways that bring far bigger returns down the road, it's time for a new Congress.
The measures in the jobs bill, including additional stimulus spending and tax cuts for business deserve bipartisan support. The national debt is a problem, but the surest way to make that debt bigger is to allow the nation to slip back into recession.