Is the jobs situation hopeless, structural and unfixable? Sometimes, you’ve got to wonder…
The latest jobs numbers offer cold comfort for anyone who was hoping for a summer jobs revival. The economy produced no new net jobs last month (payrolls actually increased by 14,000, but that was offset by continued job shedding by state and local governments.) And unemployment remains stuck at 9.1 percent. Republicans immediately attacked the administration over the new numbers, but everyone who’s paying attention knows they’re secretly thanking both their lucky stars, and their intransigent leadership in the House and Senate, who want no part of any plan that would actually boost the economy, since that would also boost Barack Obama’s re-election prospects.
So really, can anything be done, given the toxic politics in Washington, to create jobs?
Ezra Klein says there’s a plan out there that could work.
…the supercommittee has a design flaw: it’s directed to return recommendations on deficit reduction, but not job creation. That doesn’t make sense from an economic perspective and it doesn’t make sense from a political perspective. If the supercommittee succeeds and a deficit-reduction package passes Congress, Washington will have nevertheless failed to make any progress on the issue that economists consider most important in the near-term and that the American people have named, in poll after poll, as their top priority.
Later today — which will, incidentally, be after the August jobs number comes out — Rep. John Larson is introducing a bill to add a jobs component to the supercommittee’s mandate. His legislation suggests three possible ways of doing so: either the existing supercommittee should commit to returning recommendations on jobs, or it should add four new members and create a subsupercommittee on jobs, or it should create a parallel supercommittee on jobs. In all cases, Larson says, failure to return and pass job-creation legislation would mean the trigger goes off.
Larson is on the right track here: the political system’s hard-won insights into how to achieve deficit reduction — or at least how to make it more likely — should be applied to jobs, too. That the supercommittee wasn’t designed this way in the first place is evidence of how misplaced Washington’s priorities are. That every member of Congress and the president isn’t rushing to the microphone to swear they’ll fix it is, well, I don’t even know what to say about that.
The Washington Post asks whether executive authority can do the trick.
At this point, it may be worth asking whether anything can or will work.
Meanwhile, the president’s rescheduled jobs speech is Thursday.