Friday, September 16, 2011

GUEST COLUMN: "How to Create 4,000 Local Jobs with a Stroke of the Pen" by Rep. Jean Schmidt

Rep. Jean Schmidt
After President Obama finished his speech about jobs to a joint session of Congress last week, I handed him an envelope. It contained a letter that outlined how to create 4,000 jobs in South-Central Ohio with the stroke of a pen.

I told him what the letter was about. He said: “Thank you, I’ll look into it.”

That letter was signed by the mayor of Portsmouth, David Malone, and four local business leaders. During a meeting with me, they asked that I personally deliver the letter to the president. The letter noted that in 2008, while campaigning for the presidency, Barack

Obama promised to support a conditional loan guarantee for USEC’s American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon.

It’s shovel ready. It would create 4,000 jobs in Ohio – and another 4,000 jobs elsewhere. That’s 8,000 jobs total. The jobs at the uranium enrichment plant would be long term. They would be jobs that pay well.

The best part is they would be created by the private sector – not through stimulus dollars linked to tax hikes.

The jobs bill that the president announced last week – and plans to tout again when he visits Cincinnati next Thursday – includes an estimated $467 billion in permanent tax increases.

These new taxes would be needed to avoid a deficit of $447 billion over 10 years to pay for temporary stimulus spending, new job-training programs, unemployment insurance, and temporary tax reductions. Those estimates come from the White House.

I applaud the president’s desire to do something about unemployment, but I don’t agree that the way to do it is through raising taxes and more federal stimulus spending.

Unemployment is stuck at 9.1 percent nationally. And the jobs picture for August was flat – no net expansion of employment – despite $825 billion in stimulus funds that have been poured down our economic well.

The president had claimed that money would fund 550,000 full-time jobs, but the Congressional Budget Office notes that those numbers are not to be trusted – because some of those “jobs” might have been created anyway. And some of the “new jobs” are made to look new but aren’t – through the slippery magic of how government shifts money around.

This week, the Census Bureau said the poverty rate in the United States was 15.1 percent last year, the highest rate since 1993. That means 46.2 million people in the United States were living below the poverty line, and their situations likely have not improved. The Census Bureau also reports median household income declined last year.

So, flushed with this kind of “success,” the Obama administration proposes to do more of the same – more make-work public sector jobs. And the administration proposes to find the $447 billion to pay for them by raising taxes on the very parts of the economy – businesses and individuals with high net worth – that are the most likely to create long-term, stable employment.

The idea of raising taxes was a non-starter the last time the White House suggested it. That’s not likely to change.

The reason is simple.

The kinds of jobs the government funds in a hurry don’t last long, and their effect on the economy is negligible.