NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

WHO'S GOING TO GET THE JOBS MACHINE GOING?

October 20, 2009

What can government do to crank up America's creaky job machine, asks columnist Robert J. Samuelson?  Die-hard Keynesians insist that only more government spending and tax cuts will accelerate job growth.  But many other economists fear that exploding federal debt -- incurred partly to pay for more spending and tax cuts -- could trigger a new crisis that would destroy jobs.

With the labor force expanding by more than 1 million new workers annually, economists Joseph Seneca and James Hughes of Rutgers estimate that even the job growth of the 1990s (2.4 million a year) wouldn't reduce today's 9.8 percent unemployment to 5 percent until 2017.

Economists Larry Mishel and Kenneth Rogoff suggest that we scour government for policies that discourage job creation:

  • Consider the Environmental Protection Agency's recent proposal requiring permits for large industrial facilities emitting 25,000 tons of greenhouse gases annually.
  • The proposed rule is 416 pages of dense legalese.
  • New plants or expansions would need permits demonstrating they're using "the best practices and technologies" (whatever they might be) to minimize six greenhouse gases.
  • Permits would be granted on a case-by-case basis.

How could this promote investment and job creation, except for lawyers and consultants?  Government erects many employment obstacles: restrictions on oil and natural gas drilling; unapproved trade agreements; some regulations.  But reducing these barriers would require the Obama administration to choose between its professed interest in more jobs and its many other goals -- a choice it has so far avoided, explains Samuelson.

Source: Robert J. Samuelson, "Who's going to get the jobs machine going?" Washington Post, October 19, 2009.

For text:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/18/AR2009101801462.html

 

Browse more articles on Economic Issues