After President Obama's speech last week I was hopeful that we were close to some significant Federal action on the jobs front. (See my earlier post). But after seeing how the president wants to pay for his $447 billion program, I fear that all he really wants is a political issue. Put bluntly, jobs are secondary to him keeping his own job. He wants a fight, not a program.
The so-called "pay fors" are completely a non-starter with the House Republicans and some Senate Democrats. The president has trotted out his old income redistribution stand-byes of limiting tax deductions for high income earners, taxing a portion of hitherto tax exempt state and local interest, and increasing taxes on oil companies, hedge fund partners and corporate jet owners. It is obvious that income redistribution has a higher priority than employment for this administration. To be sure taxes are going to have to raised on high income earners, but that should be done in the context of deficit reduction. To use those revenues to fund a temporary jobs program, makes long term deficit reduction even more difficult.
If the President wanted to show his bona fides on the jobs issuue he should have offered up an array of liberal favorites in the health, education, environmental and entitlement areas. That would prove that among all other liberal goals, increasing employment is the first priority. As a result the unemployed will once again witness a food fight on Capitol Hill.