July 22 (Bloomberg) — Where’s Franklin Roosevelt when we need him? While campaigning amid 25 percent unemployment in 1932, Roosevelt argued for what he called “bold, persistent experimentation.”
As he put it: “It is common sense to take one method and try it. If it fails, admit failure frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”
This spirit of creativity and experimentation is missing in today’s Washington, especially on jobs creation. If Republicans in Roosevelt’s time had blocked his big-spending Works Progress Administration programs, as they surely would today, he would have changed gears and experimented with something less expensive but still bold.
So should President Barack Obama. To his credit, Obama has been on the road almost every week pushing plans for jobs, from training 10,000 new engineers to creating better partnerships between community colleges and local businesses. But most of those are longer-term solutions that won’t help today’s desperate job-seekers. And there doesn’t seem to be a lot of out-of-the-box thinking from his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
The good news is that Obama can put people to work without spending billions if he and his team will just open themselves to more fresh ideas. I’ll offer an excellent one I heard about recently that could show quick results at a very low cost.