Some of the nation's top political commentators, legislators and intellectuals offer their insight into the biggest story burning up the blogosphere today.

Today's question:

Is $18 billion enough to spend on a jobs bill? Is it too much?

John Feehery, Pundits Blog contributor, said:

It is not enough and too much at the same time. It is not enough to have any impact on the economy. And it is too much money to waste on purely political exercise.

Dean Baker,
co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, said:

It is amazing that people in Washington are asking this question. We are down more than 10 million jobs at this point from where the economy should be. Why are 10 million people out of work? Not because they are lazy, not because they lack the skills. These 10 million people are out of work because the people who managed the economy -- Greenspan, Bernanke, Paulson, Geithner -- failed in their job.

Rather than clean house among the inept economic managers and the corrupt bankers, Congress is so generous as to provide $18 billion
for tax credits. That is about $1,800 for each job that we need. Does anyone in Congress know how to create a job for $1,800.

In addition, the credit was horribly targeted so that almost all the money will go to businesses for workers who they would have hired anyhow. Even if we are not prepared to spend the money needed to make up for the jobs lost through Greenspan-Bernanke policies we could at least be more serious in devising credible ways to spend out job creation money.

Germany and the Netherlands have used tax credits to promote work-sharing to get employers to shorten workweeks rather than lay people off. As a result, there has been no increase in unemployment in these countries even though they have actually experienced steeper downturns than the United States. The Germans and Dutch are not obviously that much smarter than people in the United States. However, the people who design their economic policy are clearly way ahead of ours.

Frank Askin, professor of law at Rutgers University, said:

Not nearly enough; but the question is how much can Obama squeeze out of the Senate.

Hal Lewis, professor at UC Santa Barbara, said:

If it were a bill to create productive jobs, with the purpose of strengthening our economy, it would be well justified, as were the CCC and the WPA in New Deal days. But as simply another raid on the treasury it is not. The story of Charlie in the Chocolate Factory is apt. This administration is using its (temporary) hold on the keys to the nation's wealth to bleed out as much as they can for their favorites, knowing that the burden of paying it off falls in the future, while the votes they hope to buy are delivered now.

John F. McManus, president of The John Birch Society, said:   

The jobs bill just passed by the Senate is not a spending bill in the usual sense.  Instead, it is cancellation for companies of social security taxes for the balance of 2010 on newly hired unemployed individuals who have been out of work for 60 days. Employers will also get a tax credit for each of those workers who stays on the payroll for a full year.
So the government will not be adding new spending.  Instead it will reduce its collecting.  This, too, will add to the already voluminous deficit.
The total number of persons moving from unemployed to employed will be tiny when the full unemployed totals are considered.
A better idea would have been to shut down the Department of Education, or several other federal departments (energy, housing, health, etc) that have made matters they deal with worse than if they had never been created in the first place.
How about the $51 billion Mr. Obama wants to spend in foreign aid. This is another outrage that ought to be canceled immediately - all of it.  Spending money that creates jobs overseas is galling to say the least.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said:

There are two kinds of jobs bills.  One bill gets the government out of the way of creating new jobs….welfare reform, the Reagan 1981 tax cuts, the cuts in capital gains.  Real permanent jobs are created by entrepreneurs and workers.

The Herbert Hoover/FDR/Obama strategy is to take a dollar from folks who earned it—through taxes or more debt—and handing it to people who have political connections.  This is not a jobs program.  It is political corruption.  And one dollar is too much.

Justin Raimondo
, editorial director, said:

The mere thought that we're going to be spending $18 billion on a "jobs program" is profoundly depressing, because it means that the "leaders" of this country have no idea about what is the real source of jobs, and wealth-creation: they see government as the only way to "stimulate" the economy. What they don't understand is that wealth is created by individual entrepreneurship, and cannot be legislated into existence.