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Republican Jobs Plan A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing

Memo Pad Politics

Republican Jobs Plan A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing


Jobs and unemployment remain voters’ top concerns — which ought to make fiscal stimulus for the ailing economy the main priority in Washington. But Congressional Republicans now insist that curtailing environmental and labor regulations, a perennial obsession of theirs, is the silver bullet for job growth.

In a Monday memo to his Republican colleagues, Majority Leader Eric Cantor outlined his party’s vision:

As you know, we released The House Republican Plan for America’s Job Creators earlier this year. While the debt crisis has demanded much of our attention, our new majority has passed over a dozen pro-growth measures to address the equally troubling jobs crisis, such as the Energy Tax Prevention Act and the Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act.

Our regulatory relief agenda will include repeal of specific regulations, as well as fundamental and structural reform of the rule-making system through legislation like the REINS Act, the Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act, and reform of the Administrative Procedures Act (all three bills are expected on the floor in late November and early December).

The following is a list of the 10 most harmful job-destroying regulations that our committee chairmen have identified, as well as a selective calendar for their repeal. These regulations are reflective of the types of costly bureaucratic handcuffs that Washington has imposed upon business people who want to create jobs.

Cantor goes on to cite a litany of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rulings in favor of workers and citizens and against business interests.

But while it might please the right-wing base, this legislative wish-list would hardly bring relief to the unemployed.

“For these guys, when your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. This strikes me as trying to adapt their anti-regulatory, anti-labor agenda into a jobs plan. And it’s pretty cynical. I’d be amazed if this kind of an agenda moved the needle one bit on unemployment,” said Jared Bernstein, who served as Vice President Joe Biden’s chief economist in the White House from 2009 through 2010 and is an expert on labor issues at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.

Indeed, it is remarkable that a financial crisis — born at least in part of insufficient regulation — has been seized by the Republican Party as an opportunity to roll back rules that still constrain the corporate sector’s excesses.

“I know that Americans have short memories but I think most of us can still remember what happened in 2007 and 2008 and how we got into a period when we have nearly one in 10 people who want a job out of work for years now,” said Heather Boushey, a senior economist at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think-tank. “A lot of that was because of the collapse of the housing bubble and what we had done in terms of deregulating Wall Street all coming home to roost. It doesn’t seem to make sense that if you give banks more lax regulations that that’s going to solve the problems that got us here in the first place.”

Both economists were more optimistic, though, about President Obama’s choice to lead the Council of Economic Advisors, Princeton Professor Alan Krueger, who served at the Treasury Department for much of Obama’s first two years in office.

“It’s an inspired choice,” Bernstein said. “Alan is a great guy for this job. First of all, he’s a labor market economist. It’s somewhat unusual to have the chair of the Council of Economic Advisors be a labor person. With the unemployment rate stuck around 9 percent, having Alan at the head of the CEA is something that should give us some hope. He’s an expert in unemployment and policies designed to help reduce joblessness, and I think he’s going to be a very strong advocate in the White House for more targeted jobs measures.”

Increasing demand in the economy is the surest way to boost employment, Boushey said, and that includes extending the president’s 2010 payroll tax cut — or some other tax credit for the working poor and middle class.

“A smart jobs agenda would focus on: how can we boost investments in infrastructure immediately. Both as an economist and an American taxpayer, I’d like to see our government dollars spent the best way with the best bang for its buck. That payroll tax cut got bipartisan support. If that’s the best we can do, by all means let’s do it. [But] there are more efficient ways to spend government resources. The Making Work Pay tax credit that we had a couple of years ago [as part of the Stimulus program] was a better targeted and more efficient and effective use of funds.”

With unemployment hovering at 9 percent and his approval ratings sagging, the president has every incentive to brighten the jobs picture. The same cannot be said of his Republican counterparts, whose overwhelmingly ideological, scatter-shot approach to easing burdens on business shows little promise for putting the millions of Americans without it back to work.

Matt Taylor

Matt Taylor is the political correspondent and staff reporter at The National Memo. Previously, he was a staff reporter at The East Hampton Star, where he wrote about politics and the arts. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Michigan in 2010 with a B.A. in political science. You can follow him on Twitter @matthewt_ny

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  1. kurt.lorentzen September 1, 2011

    You guys just don’t get it. Once again let me declare that I have no allegiance to the Republican party. But the idea that government jobs will do anything to repair our thread-hanging economy is pure voodoo. Private sector jobs – jobs created by the private sector, funded by the private sector, and producing products or services either consumed by the US market, or exported for consumption by foreign consumers is what we’re lacking. The reason we don’t have jobs is because nobody wants to do business in the US anymore. Regulation upon regulation and a tax structure that gives a “tax break” today and then takes it back plus 10% two years later is not a stable climate for US job creators. We’re already running trillions of dollars over-budget on an annual basis and we ca’t afford continuation of the policies that got us to that point by spending more to perpetuate the same old broken system. A fair and CONSISTENT (permanent) tax code and easing-up on the unbelievable maze of regulatory hoops that must be navigated in order to produce anything in the US will ABSOLUTELY create jobs. Lots of them. Real jobs – not more government programs disguised as jobs.

  2. Davesilb September 1, 2011

    You are right that cutting regulations and bad environmental policies will cause Americans to create new and more jobs!!! But the lib’s just do not understand because they have never had to go out and try to start a business or grow a business.

  3. Davesilb September 1, 2011

    We must cut the regulations and environmental rules before we do any spending on infrastructure because they are what makes the work cost so much. Between these rules, regulations, and prevailing wages all infrastructure rebuilding costs two to three times what it should. Anyone who does not believe that does not have a clue what is involved in doing work for the government.

  4. SlyRobber September 2, 2011

    The Fascist and their richly paid pions will never be happy till all of the world workers toil under their ” right to work ” nightmare. In history that had another name it was called ARBEIT MACHT FREI. People, Americans all workers of the world, remember this. We have forgotten their history and are letting them try again.

  5. kurt.lorentzen September 2, 2011

    SlyRobber, no one (in this forum at least) is suggesting that we adopt a fascist policy, outlaw trade unions, or remove collective bargaining from the private sector. But at a cost of $68 per hour for an assembly-line worker there’s just no way the US can compete against foreign producers. Like it or not, socialization or not, the global market is pure capitalism. The Chinese understand this and, granted, their methods of leading the competition violate every principal we hold as sacred in the US. Once again, noone is suggesting that we adopt a model anything like theirs. But look at how we’ve continually shot ourselves in the foot: Free Trade with countries like China that use slave labor and environmentaly devasting practices to lowball everything we produce; Labor unions who shell out millions to political campaigns and private organizations to elevate them to a Mafia-like status. Government contracts to French companies for mid-air refuelling tankers while we deny Boeing the right to produce a competetive product by telling them where they can and cannot set up their business (and I’m from Washington State!). Politics is all about manipulating the wealth. And where goes the wealth, so goes the power. Granting so much power to labor and government agencies wrests the control of private industry from the movers and shakers that make things happen and puts it in the hands of those with a very narrow focus, and who cow-tow to the whims of the biggest money sources.

  6. Jim Mueller September 5, 2011

    Kurt please admit one thing since you claim no allegiance to the Republicans. There is no incentive for the Republicans to see the economy improve for the next 18 months – would you agree? The Republicans #1 focus for the last two years has been to win back the White House. While that is always a priority for the party not in the WH the Republicans have no shame in making clear that anything that hurts Obama is good for them – no matter what the cost is to working (and non-working Americans).

    While having the gov’t provide jobs is not the ideal solution it is possibly the only solution right now. Americans have to get back to work to provide the consumption this country needs to stimulate the economy. Tax cuts for corporations are a disincentive to invest in their businesses since they reap more rewards by earning profits, i.e. cutting costs (people) to increase profit.

    This cycle we’re in was at least in part created by lax regulations and oversight and to think that is the answer now is absurd. You can blame Obama if you want (you haven’t so far and that is commendable) but the politicians in Washington, in particular the Republicans, have shown no leadership or inclination to solve problems.


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