Thursday, September 30, 2010


The Democrats will probably--and ought to--lose big this November because they haven't delivered on the issue that matters most: jobs. We can give the Obamites (and the Fed) a heaping helping of praise for saving us from total collapse in early 2009 and for creating a framework that decreases the odds of future such catastrophes.

But that was then; this is now. And the now is a bleak picture indeed at the level of the supermarket, the gas station, the coffee shop, and the soccer or baseball field---wherever neighbors meet up and swap stories about themselves and the other folks they know. The market may be up, the metrics may show we are out of danger, and Prada or Apple might have a good quarter. But if the backyard chatter persists about Joe and Brenda and Alan still out of work and struggling to make house payments or afford a family vacation, consumer belts will remain tightly buckled, and we are cooked.

FDR understood this well, and though he faced a much graver crisis in the 1930's, the focus of policy was to get people to work and a dozen major initiatives were tried, some failed.

I believe that as a matter of principle and priority, Obama is on the side of the middle class and working folks.

But we need more pro-consumption policies in place. The short-lived auto purchase subsidy program from a year or so past shows that direct government action to boost sales in targeted industries can work. How about sales tax free Thursdays, in which the federal government cuts a check to those states which suspend sales taxes on goods and services purchased on Thursdays? Or let's suspend social security taxes on the first 50K of wages, or on all taxes on labor for companies which hire incrementally during the next 12 months. Yes, we will have to find the money somewhere----defense might be a good starting point.

Nothing's working yet. Let's try new solutions or we will have to bring in new people.

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