This off focus on “jobs” (for “jobs” are not in the bailiwick of government) is one of the primary things which got us into this long-term mess.
Which got me thinking I hadn’t been clear enough. So here’s my effort at more clarity.
The best way for government to help increase employment is to create an economic climate in which business thrives, and has the confidence to hire more people rather than lay them off. This cannot be done by demonizing large corporations and increasing taxes on businesses, or by violating contracts with bondholders (as with the GM takeover), or by increasing spending in unpredictable ways (as with the threatened passage of cap and trade that will probably have the admitted effect of causing utility bills to “skyrocket”)—as the present Congress and administration has done or plans to do.
One of the legacies of the New Deal was the direct government creation of jobs to respond to an unemployment crisis. During the Great Depression, however, a far larger percentage of people were out of work than now, and there was no federal welfare system yet (it was not established until 1935), with its web of vast entitlements. These days there are already enormous governmental programs in place, as well as powerful unions for many types of jobs in the public sector (which form a much greater part of the work force now then during the 1930s). Government is already hugely over-extended.
For these reasons, direct government creation of federally-funded and operated jobs would not appear to be a good idea, and would only lead to an increase in taxes and/or deficits. Taxes are already a large burden on the ordinary citizen and businesses, and a drag on the growth of the economy. Increased deficits threaten the government itself and the future of our monetary system, causing more jitters in the business world and subsequent lack of jobs creation.
One of the many problems is that the Democrats in Congress and this administration are stuck in a “blame business” mentality and are also wedded to the idea that growing federal government is the answer to nearly everything. These thoughts have been supported not just in their rhetoric, but in their actions as well.
How can they turn back from these policies now? These things gave them a winning hand back in the election of 2008, which occurred at the beginning of the financial crisis. And they are ever-popular notions among the liberals whose support (financial and otherwise) was highly instrumental in putting the current crop of legislators (and our president) into power.
Whether Democrats are actually aware that growing jobs would mean they must ally the fears of the small and large business owner—both by words and by deeds—is unclear. But even if they are quite cognizant of that fact, they may be unable to act accordingly, because it would outrage their main supporters and leave them open to charges of “Republicans lite.”