The answer might be to make the voucher redeemable by the employer only with a commitment to no net reduction of workers for a certain period. Such logistical concerns can be worked through if officials have the will.
But do they? When I contacted the U.S. Department of Labor, Gay Gilbert, Administrator of the Office of Unemployment Insurance, showed no interest beyond saying “There is no legal authority for states to implement the ‘voucher’ idea.”
Obtaining that legal authority from a Republican House that loves the concept of vouchers might not be so hard. But it’s only possible if policy makers are willing to consider fresh thinking.
And what if Khazei’s idea is a loser in the end? All that means is that it’s time for the government to follow Roosevelt’s advice and “admit failure frankly and try another. But above all, try something.” Fourteen million Americans looking for work deserve no less.
Jonathan Alter, the author of “The Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope,” is a Bloomberg View columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
Copyright Bloomberg 2011.
Copyright 2011 The National Memo