Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Spend for jobs

Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the economy added fewer than a hundred thousand jobs in March. Five years into a historic period of economic upheaval, numbers such as this verify that we cannot—as the Republicans in the House of Representatives have demanded—sequester, cut and slash and burn our way to a healthy, growing economy  

Deficit hawks continue to argue that the short-term pain of cuts is necessary to return to fiscal health, but who determines what is “short-term” pain and what is not? Who suffers and who does not? The pain could last a long time.

During the eight years of President George W. Bush’s administration, records show effectively zero job growth. Further, the infrastructure continued to crumble as attention turned to war.

Congress has spent most of the recession talking only about the federal debt, ignoring the basic realities that Rick Newman, who writes for U.S. News and World Report, pointed out in a recent article titled “The Economy Really Does Do Better Under Democrats.”

The S&P 500 stock index, for example, rose 12.1 percent per year under Democratic presidents since 1900 and just 5.1 percent under Republicans. Since 1949, gross domestic product, the value of all goods and services in the nation, grew 4.2 percent per year under Democrats and 2.6 percent per year under Republicans. The same trend extends to corporate profits as well as jobs. Profits grew 10.5 percent under Democrats and 8.9 percent under Republicans.

We hope that President Obama will remember what Democrats have done to build a strong economy with both jobs and GDP expansion. Bad jobs reports and pitiful GDP growth will be the result of making a budget deal that cuts Social Security and Medicare and then to pointing to that deal with pride as a demonstration of compromise in order to move the country forward.

Instead of giving up on the nation by cutting and cutting, hoping those without jobs can move in with relatives rather than live under crumbling bridges, this should be the very time for more and creative spending. For example, Los Angeles recently launched automated traffic controls that synchronize its nearly 4,400 traffic lights over 469 square miles. The system cost over $400 million, but it will return the average driver an estimated 13 hours a year in less drive time, not to mention fuel saving. Air quality will also improve. 

The answer to America’s current jobs woes and improving the domestic economy lies in more spending, better infrastructure and creative, productive solutions that go beyond just cutting the federal debt.

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