Monday, May 3, 2010

Talking WPA

"What the nation needs economically...is a jobs bill that invests in home care and child care, boosts tax credits for domestic manufacturing..., and hurls money into infrastructure...Obama then needs his own Harry Hopkins."

Harold Meyerson, "Work History," American Prospect, June 2010

This interesting mix of jobs addresses multiple sectors and workers. But home care and child care are no more "shovel ready" if done right -- and require some serious skills. But a training and delivery infrastructure exists for these jobs.

"What we need is a think tank that tells us how to actually do a stimulus--how we can get the dollars out now."

I suspect we might have a swat team of public administrators who know how to get big things done at the local level -- but who is gathering them up and supporting their voices. A few weeks ago the U.S. Conference on Mayors pulled together some of the older CETA generation to talk about what they had learned in implementing a large-scale jobs program in the 1970s.

I think we need to augment the "Little WPA" that is already happening on the ground in states and cities with ARRA and other funding. It comprises more jobs than we think -- but less than we need. Places are using TANF Emergency Funds, Community Service Block Grants, etc. Maybe the most political feasible fed role is to support these funding streams, make waivers available, and get out of the way.

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