May 22, 2022

Obama Jobs Plan Bad Joke For Both Employed and Unemployed

The long awaited and hugely hyped Obama “Jobs Solution Speech”, hastily crafted between rounds of golf on the Vineyard, is unlikely to help either the employed or  unemployed.

Obama’s calls his new proposals the “American Jobs Act” but it strongly resembles the $825 billion stimulus spending program of 2009 which was ineffective and failed to stimulate the economy or create new jobs.   Taxpayers will likely fail to see the logic of a $447 billion stimulus program working any better than a $825 billion stimulus program.

The latest proposals out of the White House appear to be another desperate Keynesian attempt to keep the economy on life support long enough to boost Obama’s chances in the presidential election race.  Expecting voters to buy into Obama’s new program pushes the bounds of credibility.  Why would a relatively small $447 billion program work any better than the $4 trillion in deficit financed spending since Obama came into office?

Telling voters that the new half trillion dollar program will be paid for from future mythical budget cuts isn’t likely to fly either after seeing the results of the latest fiasco on deficit reduction talks that lead to a downgrade of the US credit rating.

Half of $447 billion “Jobs Act” program consists of payroll tax cuts for both employers and employees.  While probably adding to aggregate spending, the tax cuts do not address the fundamental problems of unemployment and income stagnation over the past decade.

Why Payroll Tax Cuts Won’t Work

What business bases hiring decisions on a 2% drop in the social security (FICA) tax?  Any business man stupid enough to decide to hire new employees simply because his share of the FICA tax will be slightly lower is already out of business.  New employees are added by businesses when there is added demand for their products and when they are confident that a lasting economic recovery is underway.  Today, there is subdued demand and no confidence – a cut in the FICA tax does nothing to change this situation.

Regarding the payroll tax cut for employees, here’s how one Connecticut resident assessed the situation.

“I am currently making $80,600 per year.   The recent reduction of 2% in the FICA tax resulted in an increase of $31 per week to my paycheck.  Meanwhile, the State of Connecticut just passed the largest tax increase in history, retroactive to the first of the year, which results in paying $17 more per week.  My weekly deduction for medical insurance increased by $12 per week since last year and our employer has suspended pay increases.

My net benefit from the FICA tax reduction is $2 a week.  Meanwhile, the cost of gasoline, home heating, insurance and groceries has risen at least 6% over the past year.  Even if the FICA tax cut was made permanent, an extra $2 per week is certainly not going to motivate me to spend more.

My savings goals for college funding and retirement have been destroyed by a collapsing stock market and zero interest rates on savings.  I  have to cut current spending in order to meet my savings goals and any extra income would be saved, not spent.”

Did Obama talk to any “real people” outside of the group of Washington elites and millionaire celebrity pals he hangs around with?  I think not.

Did Obama talk to any “real businessmen” before coming out with his warmed over and effective stimulus plan?  I think not.

Did Obama talk to “Helicopter Bernanke” about how to spread out the $447 billion of borrowed money?  The government could simply spend the $447 billion by sending every household in America a check for $3,886 attached with a note telling the recipients to thank their grandchildren whose future has been mortgaged.

Voters are rightfully disgusted by the rapid decline in their standard of living, the debasement of the US currency and the self serving dealings of the ruling Washington elites.  To pull out an old campaign slogan, “It’s time for a change”.

There are no easy answers to pulling a debt laden economy out of depression, but increasing transfer payments, small tax cuts, massively increased regulatory burdens, trillions in stimulus spending and zero interest rates have not worked.  Maybe the Washington elites should simply step aside, stop micro managing the $14 trillion dollar US economy and allow the creative forces of capitalism to work

We Are All Keynesians Now

Do Deficits Matter?

In the short term, it may not matter what anyone thinks.  There is a near universal political consensus that spending is the only solution that will save the economy.  This consensus is backed by a long list of economic experts; the same people who in the recent past had been predicting clear skies and strong economic growth.

Will borrowing and government spending bring back happy days and prosperity?   We will not know the ending to our grand Keynesian experiment for a number of years.   What we may discovery sooner is the borrowing limits of the US Government.

In the long run, deficits do matter.

For those inclined to consider this matter further, the following links are good reads.

FOMC saw specter of depression, deflation

Minutes show members grappling with fresh approach to monetary policy

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) – Members of the Federal Open Market Committee at their mid-December meeting saw increasing risks of depression and deflation as they grappled with employing new tools to stabilize an economy that was rapidly weakening, according to truncated minutes of the meeting released on Tuesday.
“The overwhelming message gleaned from the minutes of the meeting is one of fear — fear of a deep recession, and fear of a debilitating deflationary spiral that would capsize a debt-laden economy,” wrote Joshua Shapiro, chief economist for MFR Inc.
Some participants at the meeting saw “the distinct possibility of a prolonged contraction, although that was not judged to be the most likely outcome,” the minutes said. Inflationary pressures were likely to dissipate, and “some members saw significant risks that inflation could decline and persist for a time at uncomfortably low levels.” Read the Fed release.

The Deficit Spending Blowout

But there’s more. None of that includes the new fiscal “stimulus” that President-elect Obama has promised to introduce upon taking office in two weeks. The details aren’t known, but Mr. Obama and Democrats have been talking about at least $800 billion, and probably $1 trillion, in new spending or various tax credits and reductions over two years. Toss that in and add more expected bailout cash, and if the economy stays slow the deficit could reach $1.8 trillion, or a gargantuan 12.5% of GDP. That 2006 Democratic vow to pass “pay as you go” budgets seems like a lifetime ago, which in political terms it was.

Obama on Stimulus: Details To Come

So, who then determines what’s an infrastructure project? The infamous “Bridge to Nowhere” was “infrastructure.” Plans were drawn up for it. Workers would have been employed to build it. What’s the difference between pork, a boondoggle and useful infrastructure?

U.S. projects the biggest deficit since World War II.  Can the country borrow its way back to prosperity?

Reasons abound for the ballooning deficit, including a 6.6% decline in tax revenues compared to 2008; more than $180 billion in transaction costs associated with the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the Treasury Department’s bailout fund for the U.S. economy; the $240 billion price tag of the government’s takeover of mortgage buyers Fannie Mae (nyse: FNM news people ) and Freddie Mac (nyse: FRE news people ); and increased spending on unemployment compensation.

Stimulus may spur jobs – abroad

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — President-elect Barack Obama this week proposed a massive economic stimulus program with a lofty goal amid a deep recession: create 3 million jobs.

How many of those jobs will end up in China, South Korea or other countries?

Crisis and plan to fix it unprecedented

“I know the scale of this plan is unprecedented, but so is the severity of our situation,” he said. “As the economy recovers, the deficit [will] start to come down. We cannot have a solid recovery if our people and our businesses don’t have confidence that we’re getting our fiscal house in order.”

German auction fails and Britain debt hits danger level

There are fears that the next crisis in the global financial system could prove to be a rebellion by the bond vigilantes, already worried by talk of a bond bubble. This would push up rates used to fixed mortgages and corporate bond deals. Central banks can offset this for a while by purchasing bonds directly — “printing money” — but not indefinitely.

The US alone is expected to issue $2 trillion (£1.3 trillion) of debt this year, and the Europeans are not far behind. Italy alone must tap the markets for €200bn as it rolls over its huge stock of public debt and meets the cost or recession. Fitch Ratings said Ireland, Greece, the Netherlands, and France face a heavy calendar of auctions as maturities fall due.