Sunday, January 3, 2010

Jobs bill not enough

Is the jobs bill the Dems are so proud of (well, not the Blue Dogs) truly a good, albeit insufficient, start? Es posible. Certainly it makes more sense than the POP (Party of Palin) ever-twisting nonsense: so it's too hard for struggling small business owners/managers to figure out some "fancy" tax credit, eh?

Really? But it's not too hard when conservative Republicrats propose tax credits to help poor people, the unemployed, homeless, or otherwise needy (the poorest of whom, of course don't earn enough to actually pay taxes) instead of - the horror! - welfare? Or - god forbid - JOBS? (Poor people, we might be rude to point out, are considerably less likely than business owners/managers to have access to, say, accountants, tax prep services, or training in - I don't know - business and taxes, how to get tax breaks from local governments, that sort of thing. [Not to compare small business folks, of course, to the real dog-ticks of public cash: the big corporations, mind you.])

"Son of stimulus" indeed! Well, in at least one respect this is accurate: the new bill doesn't fall far enough from the TARP tree. True, as the good folks at EquityBlog remind us, the effort lacks equity, i.e. needs to focus on local hiring, underserved populations and firms, infrastructure (public transportation so poor people can get to work, etc.). Better, we could flesh this out into something like a PLA. But in the long run we will still need something deeper.

The Obama Admin missed a historic opportunity - or I should say we missed an opportunity while the Obama Admin dodged a bullet - in not trying for a sort of reverse "shock doctrine" along the lines of a Social Monetary Fund. But, for better or worse, the fat lady hasn't sung yet; the economy is still in the toilet, at least from where most of us sit. And that means we still have work to do. It's not too late to talk about a Social Monetary Fund - bailouts as buyouts, or better yet reclaiming resources entrusted to private interests that have clearly misused them, abused the public trust, sold us down the river: air waves, national forests, other federal lands. And while we're at it, how about publicly funded research and development for products then sold for profit? The list could go on, but in the short run we need leverage. Being right won't be enough, in case you hadn't noticed.

Bailouts, tax breaks, and so on, can be part of that leverage. The good folks organizing the unemployed in Indiana and elsewhere are offering a taste of this, pressuring and negotiating with local development boards (and other public entities) for jobs and job-creation. We can also demand that abandoned buildings (failed businesses, especially if they got tax breaks or are being auctioned off for nonpayment of taxes, bankruptcy, etc.) be converted into housing for the homeless, unused or underused public land be turned over to community gardening efforts ... YOU fill in the blanks.

No comments: