What’s Not to Like About Obama's Jobs Act?
Loop 21 weighs the pros and cons of Obama's jobs jumpoff
The American Jobs Act has plenty of details and a little something for everybody. It's not as comprehensive and wide sweeping as past legislation proposals, such as the healthcare reform act and the climate and energy bill from his first two years. But there's a reason for that: The climate bill went kaput in the Senate, and the healthcare bill limped out of Congress only to continue to take more slugs by lawsuits and judges nullifying various parts of it. It's safe to say that Obama intentionally went safe. He needed a proposal that he thought Democrats and Republicans could live with, and that could millions of Americans start living again, instead of surviving on unemployment benefits and depleted savings accounts. That said, there's enough in here to warm hearts. However, it's still just a proposal, and the real work begins when it makes its way through Congress. With that in mind there are reasons to curb your enthusiasm:
• The American Jobs Act has to pass Congress. And too many Republican insiders are saying that passing jobs legislation is not a big deal right now.
• A lot of this money, like funds for modernizing schools, is prioritized for rural schools. Urban metros are dying right now, but the reality is that many rural areas are already in the grave. Reconcile that cities will have to share this money with the country.
• This thing has to be paid for. It costs $450 billion and the deficit supercommittee already facing a difficult task of finding $1.5 trillion in cuts now is looking at $2 trillion. If they don’t get it by Thanksgiving, there will be sweeping cuts mostly to Department of Defense. But that’s no consolation, because there will also still be no jobs bill.
But once you get past that, what’s to like about it? Let’s break it down by groups:
If you’re an Odd Future-loving teen who really has an odd future because you have no job, you’ll like:
◦ That 35,000 schools will be wi-fi’d out and renovated. Hopefully that will mean with science labs like the White House says and not security cameras and metal detectors. Money will be targeted toward the lowest-income school districts, but remember, many of those are in rural areas. Still, this should give a lot of kids reason to get excited about going back to school, and getting skills they need for jobs after graduation.
◦ A new Pathways Back to Work Fund will expand summer jobs programs, and year-round job programs that put hundreds of thousands of kids to work in 2009 and 2010. As stimulus money runs out on December 31, it was a question whether there would be something to put money in the pockets of not-yet-adults. If this passes with the $5 billion asked for it, it should keep summer productive.
If you’re at home watching “How to Make it in America” singing “I Need a Dollar” because you’ve been out of work for the past few months you’ll like:
◦ That the payroll tax that firms pay for growing their staffs is being waived so that they will hire new workers. This gives companies relief and increases your chances that you’ll finally get calls back from the dozens of places you sent resumes to and filled applications out for over the past few months.
◦ The bullshit that is companies advertising to people already employed would be prohibited if this bill is passed, allowing you a shot at jobs that were closed off to you merely because you were out of work.
If you’re a public service employee who watches on the news every night how thousands of jobs like yours are under the guillotine because of some state or local budget crunch, or if you took a bullet for your country you’ll like:
◦ That the President wants to put up $35 billion to stop teachers, cops and firefighters from getting laid off. And if you’re a teacher this means you get to stick around for the new extreme makeover your school will get with funds from this bill.
◦ The tax incentives for businesses to stop fronting on hiring those who took out Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden so that everyone can feel safer.
If you’re a middle-class worker who longs for the days of the Huxtables wondering can it be that it was all so simple then, you’ll like:
◦ That those same payroll tax cuts that go to businesses that hire new workers will also be applied to those who give raises to existing workers, giving that extra incentive to your boss to grant that salary bump you’ve been harassing them about.
◦ The $50 billion injection called for new infrastructure projects for new roads, rails and airports, so that the construction workers in your family can get their jobs back. Also, so that Cliffs and Clairs can get their kids to school and get to work without driving over potholes, or waiting in crusty airport gates to travel for work.
◦ That your checks won’t drop a few digits because the payroll taxes that were slashed this year will be extended into next year.
If you run a small business that could definitely pull in more revenue if you could only shell out cash to hire a few more people, you’ll like:
◦ That on top of the payroll tax cut for hiring new workers, you can also get a $4000 tax credit for hiring any of those old stragglers who’ve been walking aimlessly past your store for the last six months or so.
◦ The faster payment you receive from the government so you no longer have to lie to the workers you have hired about why you haven’t paid them for the past few weeks, by telling them “the money is coming, I swear!”
◦ The 100% expensing so that you can upgrade your business with some new toys and technology to lure workers, and have them work efficiently.
If you’ve been out of work for a long time doing odd jobs like cutting grass, fixing cars or being a freelance journalist on unemployment insurance you’ll like:
◦ The modifications that not only extend your unemployment insurance but teach you how to convert those grass-cutting or car-fixing skills into regular employment through their “Bridge to Work” program.
◦ That states have way more flexibility on how to implement their unemployment insurance program, meaning less hoops for you to jump through to get the benefit.
If you’ve been out of work for awhile because employers just don’t get you, or you really just don’t like working for people … or you’re a hipster, you’ll like:
◦ Work-sharing programs that allow you to work at reduced hours so that you can have more time in the day to dream about that ambitious, if not silly, project that you won’t ever actually do but is going to make you a billionaire.
◦ The provisions from state unemployment insurance that help people like you start your own business so you can employ yourself … since you don’t want to work for anyone else.
◦ The high-speed wireless upgrade to 98% of Americans so you can sit in Google apps labs and toy around with “innovation” ideas all day.