Opinion: Obama's Job Plan - Another Promise when We Need Action

Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 09:34 AM

US President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White Houes in Washington, DC, July 11, 2011. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty)

"I'll be putting forward a very specific plan to boost the economy, to create jobs and to control the deficit… And my attitude will be, 'Get it done,'" announced President Obama as he launched a tour of the Midwest, heralded as a rallying cry for jobs, and conspicuously timed to coincide with the increasing presence of Republican hopefuls in that same region.

It's a great message, but I have one recommendation: It's time to change from the future tense to the present.

The president has been telling us "I will" for a long time. The American people, though, don't need a promissory note. We don't need to be tantalized by a trailer for a fall blockbuster. We have needed relief for years already - so we'll save our excitement not when the president pledges he will present a jobs bill but when he actually delivers one and dedicates every bit of his energy, capital and savvy to "Get it done."

Just as President Nixon once ran on a secret plan to get us out of Vietnam, President Obama seems to be suggesting he has a secret plan to get us out of this economic quagmire of sustained unemployment and uncertainty for working families. Unfortunately, a secret plan is usually no plan at all.

If the president had a prescription, why wait for fall? Announce it now and force Congress to discuss whether they will vote to create jobs as they face voters at town hall meetings during the August recess. Facing the lowest approval ratings of his presidency, use this plan to show you can lead, that you are the grown-up in the room and that you are dedicated to governing, not just politics… a distinction you effectively articulate in your current tour.

However, recent reports suggest that the White House team is still divided about what type of plan to push: One of small-bore ideas that may be able to fight through Capitol Hill vs. ambitious visions that differentiate the sides of the debate but are unlikely to pass.

The former would show an ability to get things done, but yield little in the way of recovery; the latter would give the American people a real choice, and be built upon firmer economic wisdom but unlikely to succeed.

So do you listen to the economic wisdom that says we need to be bold or the political wisdom that says we can't afford to act big? Until the president makes that decision, the only plan we'll see is a plan to announce a plan.

Of course, he's not alone. The Republicans took the House with the promise to make jobs their first priority. After attacks on Planned Parenthood and Public Broadcasting, symbolic votes on repealing healthcare and debilitating stalemates over the debt ceiling, they haven't offered the American people their jobs program either. All they have repeated is that cutting taxes will increase jobs - a philosophy disproven yet again over the past decade.

One side's plan is to keep saying no, and the other side seems to want to keep planning to plan. The only thing they both agree on is cuts, which is truly dangerous: When they think their job is to cut, real American jobs are cut.

It's time to invest in America, not starve it; time to support our working families, not our super-rich; time to bring people to work, not just bring them to the polls.

And that time isn't September when Congress comes back. The time is now. Thanks for the coming attractions, Mr. President - but we're ready for the big show.

Justin Krebs is a political organizer and writer based in New York City. He is the founder of Living Liberally, a nationwide network of 250 local clubs that create social events around progressive politics, and author of "538 Ways to Live, Work and Play Like a Liberal."


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Comments [4]

Solomon Kleinsmith from Omaha, NE

To be fair... all he can do right now is offer plans, with congress not in session. He should have taken action before, but this is just what he tactically should be doing now, using the bully pulpit to push his agenda. It's just a damn shame he didn't do that for months with the grand compromise.

Aug. 18 2011 01:07 PM
NABNYC from SoCal

President Obama has already announced what he plans to do to create jobs in this country. The steps the president wants Congress to take include extending payroll tax cuts for another year, passing three free trade agreements and enacting patent reform. All three of which, by the way, are terrible ideas supported by the right-wing, which will harm American working people, not create any new jobs, and likely increase poverty and unemployment.

First, cutting the payroll tax simply means cutting off the supply of money into social security and medicare. All employees and employers pay into the social security and medicare system out of every paycheck. By cutting the amount they pay, the result is to defund two critical social programs. Who benefits? The right-wing, who wants to terminate both programs, want to defund them so they can declare them broke.

Second, it is at this point undisputed that the WTO corporated front-group created "free" trade agreements lead to increased unemployment in this country as well as decreased wages, benefits, and working conditions.

Finally, the whole subject of patent reform is a corporate demand. What has happened is that as corporations have sent Americans jobs to other countries, they have also inundated the patent office applying to patent every screw, plate, and assembly ever used in their U.S. plants, so they can force foreign countries (who are part of the "free" trade treaties) to pay U.S. corporations money every time they use a similar screw, plate, or assembly. This demand is just another way for corporations to suck money out of the world while contributing nothing. It does not increase employment one bit.

It's so insulting for Obama to use these obscure concepts to claim he has a plan to create jobs. He is being deceptive to the people. My position is this: no jobs, no vote. If the democrats want to create jobs, they need to immediately fund infrastructure projects and further provide that every worker and every piece of material on those projects must be only from the U.S. I'm not holding my breath, but that is what they should do.

Aug. 16 2011 01:14 PM
Virtual from Indiana

Sadly, only complains to the President Obama. Don't you see the mess he inherited from Bush? four years are not enough to execute potential strategies, especially if those are blocked by his counterparts!! With that environment, nothing cannot be done and a need for a constant change in plans. Let's not be sarcastic, blind. We loved to buy cheap but where are the jobs? just look at any item, and I mean any item you have, is it US made? Let's give the president more time.

Aug. 16 2011 01:02 PM

Here's a plan - two and a half point drop in unemployment or the Bush Tax cuts for incomes over $1M are toast! You have until Dec 2012 to get 'er done!

Aug. 16 2011 11:24 AM

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