Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Smart Pork

"Senate leaders warned in an e-mail that 'only those items that spend out quickly, create jobs, and constitute sound national policy should be considered for inclusion in the package.'"

"How to stimulate the economy without adding pork-barrel fat," USA Today, December 30,2008.

This is the problem, isn't it? Shovel ready and sound policy may or may not be so easy to reconcile. Are we talking about the oil guzzling, carbon generating policy of today -- or the emerging green infrastructure of tomorrow. At best, we're in a transition so we need some of both (and a lot of green), but which elements? Maybe a lot of water and sewer, but not for metro expansion.

"Help should go to people most hurt by the recession."

Food stamps, exending UI, and targeted tax relief will certainly help. What about the jobs generated by the infrastrucure investments? This is a tough one. Hiring targets and enforcement will slow things down and raise all sorts of issues but are needed if we want to reach everyone. And construction jobs will only serve segments of the populations in need of work.

What Obama needs is a jobs policy that speaks specifically to the different mechanisms he will use to create jobs and connect these job opporunities to populations in need. Such a policy would begin with the recovery plan but also address hiring targets, public/community service jobs, and sectoral approaches for construction and health care jobs.

1 comment:

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