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Monday, May 9, 2011

Rhetoric: JOBs, JOBs, JOBs; Reality: NO JOBs

A Republican JOBs Bill?  Who do they think they’re kidding?  It’s an absolutely flagrant misuse of the word.  What their JOBs Bill really is: more profit for the rich and powerful;  more blatant attacks on the federal government as an unworthy source of jobs, and as an incompetent organization.  By the way, this isn’t the first time that the GOP has equated incentives, deductions, and exemptions for small and big businesses as a “Jobs Bill.”  In 2004, G.W. Bush signed the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 that was simply chock full of “goodies” for businesses (the tax breaks estimated to cost $143 billion over 10 years).  That “job creation” resulted in more layoffs, more closings, more shipping of jobs overseas.  In the latest rejuvenation of this formula for “creating jobs” we can expect similar results!

First, they say that “government should not try to create jobs by growing the size of government”.  On the surface, that looks like a reasonable statement, but it’s not because we need JOBs now, no matter from where they emanate.  Besides, adding government-sponsored JOBs does not necessarily mean an expansion of bureaucracy.  Several departments of national and state governments already have responsibility for job creation and training and they are not looking to expand their departments. 

Second, they say “it’s time for a new approach. Government should create an environment for private sector growth through fiscal discipline and pro-growth…policies.”  Then, they trot out all the old remedies that haven’t worked for the last 30 years; the same policies and programs that have widened the gap between the rich and the broad middle class in the last generation. 

Third, corporations are already boasting record profits, but they are not sinking profits back into their U.S.-based businesses.  Instead, corporations continue to close plants, lay off workers and ship jobs overseas where they can minimize wages, benefits, taxes and unionization.  In addition, they are currently sitting on nearly $2 trillion in profits, without turning that into jobs.  So, Republicans want to increase profits and earning-power for executives while not creating job one for the rest of us!  Their JOBs Plan is one of the biggest FARCEs ever perpetrated on the American people.  R U Bamboozled?

The first part of their proposal is to “live within our means” by requiring a Balanced Budget Amendment, a statutory spending limit, and deficit reduction. These ideas may have some merit in themselves as possible ways to deal with government spending, but not one of them can guarantee the creation of one JOB. 

Their second mantra is that “we must create incentives for our entrepreneurs to invest in the future, innovate and grow.”  Certainly a worthwhile objective, but how they say we get there is through the same old, tired canards that have not served us (the middle class) well in the past 30 years:
--Reduce business and individual tax rates (by which they mean the rates for the 1-2% at the top of the ladder who have been pocketing their gains at the expense of everyone else!);
--Make research and development tax credit permanent:  a worthy goal if targeted to the United States, and if made broadly available, not just to large corporations
--Extend and make permanent the Small Business Investment Tax Incentive: letting small businesses immediately write-off equipment purchases as tax deductions.  Unfortunately, larger businesses, by “branching” into smaller units, have been able to claim this deduction that they don’t deserve.  The definition of “small” businesses is key here.  To be totally fair, the same incentive should be given to the self-employed, so that they might grow into small businesses.    
--Reduce taxes on Capital Gains and Dividends: once again, who benefits the most? And who sits on the profits?  There is no incentive here for creating JOBs; just for making the rich richer!

They also want to remove burdensome regulations on businesses.  But that’s one of the big reasons why we got into the huge economic trouble we’re in: deregulation and less governmental oversight led to abuses in financing, mortgage-lending, banking, Wall Street investments, Big Oil gouging and lack of safety provisions, etc.  Government regulation is key to keeping the excesses of capitalism under control to the benefit of a broad working middle class.  This idea of deregulation is not a prescription for JOBs, but it is a prescription for robbery, fraud, and abuse.  Don’t buy any of it!  That being said, truly burdensome, poorly conceived, and biased regulations are not helpful to anyone. 

There does need to be a broader input mechanism for opinion, data, and suggestions for regulations from those immediately affected, and from those indirectly affected.  There does need to be a sunset provision on each set of rules and regulations so that they will be reviewed (and reformed) on a reasonable timetable.  Rule-making and regulation-formulation are the mode by which laws are executed.  There needs to be as much attention to this process as there is to legislating the laws of the land, because rules and regulations have the force of law.

The GOP Plan calls for two measures that, they say, would help to create a “competitive” workforce:  reform of federal training programs and stopping “card-check”.  Once again, the GOP is using code words to cover their true intentions.   The intention is not to reform federal job training, but to gut it, so that it becomes a shadow of what it is.  They intend to do this by combining all training programs into one (smaller) program that then will present training on a very limited basis, unable to meet the needs of very different clients who have entirely different needs and issues.  So, they are advocating a situation where “one size fits all.“  Not at all what is needed.  AND YET, on the very next subject of  “Card-Check (a euphemism for “unionization”), they say specifically that the reason this is unacceptable is because it “creates a one-size-fits-all approach to wages and benefits.”  So apparently, it’s o.k. to have a one-size-fits-all approach to training, but not for an approach to wages and benefits.  Why is that, you ask?  Because in one case (training) it works to undermine job training, but in the 2nd case, it works against their anti-union ideology!

While making a brief reference to “the imperative” of educating our children to be the innovators, entrepreneurs and workers of tomorrow, the Republicans otherwise steer clear of the role of public schools in job preparation.  Are they prepared to take the steps necessary for enhancing public education so that our children can compete with the rest of the developed nations?  Not on your life.   Public education is a key priority in the training of leaders and workers, but the GOP and Tea Partiers are intent on privatizing education in this country so that government will no longer be able to exercise any control over what happens in our schools.  That means no strategic planning for the future jobs market, or for anything else that begins with a public education. 

The rest of the Plan is devoted to equally inane recommendations, most of which have more to do with political in-fighting than with JOB creation, i.e. increasing exports, doing more oil-drilling on the outer continental shelf and on federal lands, and addressing health care reform by malpractice reform, allowing purchase of insurance across state lines, risk pools for small businesses, and strengthening HSAs. 

All of which brings us again to the question: where are the JOBs?  The GOP speculates that the measures they propose will create an “environment” in which growth will occur.  But what if it simply doesn’t do that?  What if their provisions do what they have done before: create an atmosphere in which the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and the middle class gets robbed and stagnated? 

What we need is a REAL JOBS plan.  More next time…