Economy & Budget

The Big Question: Does the jobs bill push mean the stimulus failed?

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

Today's question:

Is the rush toward a jobs bill an implicit admission that February's $787 billion economic stimulus failed?

Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit blogger, said:

Admission or not, it's obvious that the stimulus has been a miserable failure, with unemployment much worse than the Obama Administration said we'd see without the stimulus, and much, much worse what they promised us we'd see if the stimulus passed.  Arianna Huffington is calling unemployment Obama's Katrina, increasing pressure for action. But a "jobs bill" is likely to prove yet another expensive flop. Legislation doesn't create jobs. Investment creates jobs, and in the current political environment, you're crazy to invest unless the political fix is in.

Much of the unemployment problem stems from uncertainty created by the Administration and Congress, as they rush one poorly thought out gimmick after another through the system and create the sense that the only good investment is one that's government-approved.  The best thing they could do is probably nothing, but since doing nothing offers no opportunities for political posturing and graft, I predict that we'll see another expensive yet ineffectual program instead.

Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, said:

The jobs bill reflects that the damage done in the prior eight years will take more work to repair. There are many good people in Washington and elsewhere, working very hard on that.

Daniel J. Mitchell, senior fellow at The Cato Institute, said:

The so-called stimulus was a massive waste of tax dollars, but this should not be a surprise.

The $787 billion spending spree was based on the discredited Keynesian theory that did not work for Hoover and Roosevelt in the 1930s and did not work for Japan in the 1990s. It also did not work for Bush last year, so it is baffling that anybody would think it would work this year. Borrowing money out of the economy’s right pocket and then having politicians put the same money in the economy’s left pocket was the political equivalent of a perpetual motion machine. The only surprise was that the White House was foolish enough to make specific claims of the good results that supposedly would flow from all the pork-barrel spending. In part, this is the absurd notion of claiming 600,000-plus “jobs saved or created” when total employment actually has fallen by more than 3 million. But the bigger mistake was claiming that the faux stimulus would keep the unemployment rate from rising above 8 percent and that failure to squander $787 billion would cause the jobless rate to climb to 9 percent. The politicians got their wish, yet now the unemployment rate is above 10 percent. Brilliant.

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

There is little dispute among economists that the stimulus helped to boost growth and prevented the unemployment rate from rising even higher. This can be seen very clearly in the data. For example, consumption grew in the 2nd quarter even though wage income fell. This was obviously due to the increases in unemployment insurance and other benefits, as well as the Make Work Pay tax cuts. Everyone who has looked at the data recognizes the positive role that the stimulus played.

The reason why there is a need for a jobs bill is that the economy was hit harder than President Obama and most private forecasters anticipated. They can be blamed for not getting their forecast right (they are supposed to be good economists), but on the other hand, President Obama was not the person who let an $8 trillion housing bubble grow unchecked, or insisted that its collapse would be no big deal when it started to deflate. (That person would be Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke).

Anyhow, the economy was worse than was generally recognized, as some of us did try to warn last winter. This means that much more stimulus was needed at the time. The story here is of a hugely overweight person who cut back their food intake by 300 calories a day. If this person had originally been consuming 3000 calories a day, then this reduction in food consumption will probably not be adequate to get their weight down. But the conclusion is  not to go back to eating 3000 calories a day, but rather to cut food intake more.

The Republicans will try to take advantage of the Obama administration's forecasting mistake to claim stimulus doesn't work. However, if the public gives into this nonsense then we will all end up fat and unemployed.

Bernie Quigley, Pundits Blog contributor, said:

Yes. If you drove south from northern New Hampshire to North Carolina on I-95 as I have done this past weekend, you would see extensive work conspicuously done by women and men in lime green clothing here in the frozen north where almost no one lives. Every road has been resurfaced; the ledges have been torn off the high cliffs by the highways that just last year housed hawks and peregrine falcons, lines have been painted everywhere.

Much of this work has been voted down again and again locally as work that did not need to be done, work that we did not want done; labor that we do not respect; work that we do not consider to be real work. Increasingly, the feds need to New Jersey-fy us so as to removeth chill of the cold, clear, northern night and the coyote’s chant that sends the willies up their spines. But there is less than 2 percent unemployment up here in these parts. This money is a complete waste by nostalgicos channeling the Inner Roosevelt and longing for the days of Woody Gunthrie and Big Bill Broonzy singing folkloric ditties in a box car heading across the western plains on the government’s tab.

Commodities guru Jim Rogers, in comparing the Obama spending to that of the Chinese, points out that the Chinese are correctly spending infrastructure money by applying it where it is needed for the 130 million new workers recently arrived in the industrial centers. Here it is just tossed anywhere, as if out of an airplane, regardless of need. All patterns of population and economy today point west. When people here in the Land of the Free move they tend to move today to Texas and Alaska. There has been no attempt to follow patterns of rising karma. And then when you get south to New York City, where employment is now most probably above 20% the roads and infrastructure are a mess and not a finger has been lifted. There appears to be no plan whatsoever as Rogers says.

Rep. John Carter (R-Tx.) said:

There is no doubt that the original Stimulus failed to create jobs, and has in fact probably cost additional jobs and prolonged the recession.  To create jobs we need to lower the tax burden to stimulate investment, which is the exact opposite of what the Democrats did earlier this year and now contemplate again.

Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) said:

The damage done to our economy by Bush policies will take longer than months to fix, especially to help the millions of American families who are still struggling to make ends meet. The economic recovery package was an important step in a new direction but we need to do more to help Americans who have lost their jobs due to years of deregulation and harm done to our social and economic fabric by failed Republican policies and tax cuts to the wealthiest. 

Dick Morris, Pundits Blog contributor, said:

It is the political and economic equivalent of the escalation of the Vietnam war.  If 100K troops don't win, send in 200K and so forth until the fact that the program isn't working becomes obvious to everyone, even its advocates.
 
The stimulus spending is not failing because it is inadequate but because it is counter productive.  The capital it absorbs could be better spent investing in private sector job growth.  All the stimulus is, is a heart lung machine to keep the economy alive.  it does nothing to assure that it will be able to live on its own once the machine is disconnected.  In fact, by absorbing all the oxygen in the room to pay for its deficit, it assures that it will not be able to do so

Read more after the jump.

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Washington's elusive quest for jobs (Rep. Paul Ryan)

With unemployment at 10.2%, it is imperative that we focus on job creation. In the halls of Congress, there are reports of yet another "stimulus" spending bill. It is great that jobs are again on the agenda, but to continue to do the same thing (simply spend more money) and expect different results is the definition of insanity. As the private sector continues to shed jobs, the size and scope of the federal government is expanding at breakneck speed: trillions in new taxes, spending, and debt; the creation of new government entitlement programs; unprecedented power grabs over our financial, health care, and energy sectors. Washington needs to drop its adherence to the notion that spending your money and printing new money are the only answers to promoting jobs here at home.

As we open another stimulus debate, it is instructive to revisit the passionate and vocal case recovery2.gifmade earlier this year for the trillion dollar spending package (H.R. 1). In January of 2009, President-elect Obama's economic team released a detailed report that made clear the need for their spending bill and the consequences if we didn't rush one-trillion dollars out the door. The following chart, along with updates that mark the actual unemployment data, makes clear the disparity between Washington's promises and the dismal results.

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Unregulated derivatives are holes in our economic boat (Sen. Maria Cantwell)

If your boat had twelve holes in the bottom, you wouldn’t fix eleven of them, congratulate yourself on a job well done and take it out to sea.

Any loopholes in proposed regulatory reform for the derivatives market work much the same way. In derivatives markets, as in boating, one hole can sink the entire vessel.

That’s why it is so important that Congress respond to the derivatives market meltdown with a thorough, leak-proof, loophole-free regulatory reform bill. Last year, we saw how much damage loopholes can cause. The economic collapse in 2008 stemmed in large part from banks recklessly gambling in the unregulated derivatives market. When the bottom fell out, the banks tapped taxpayer dollars to avert disaster. Now they are using the bailout money to place more bets in a derivatives market that remains unregulated.

Until 2000, as a matter of federal law, all derivatives were required to be traded on regulated central exchanges overseen by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, unless specifically exempted by the Commission. The oversight protected the public from the chaos that could result from unscrupulous or reckless trading.

Then in 2000, Congress passed a provision in the Commodities Futures Modernization Act of 2000 that exempts derivatives trade from federal regulation. At the same time, Congress also preempted state gambling regulations, the point being to strip away all regulatory control – federal or state – over derivatives trading.

When federal regulators are stripped of their ability to oversee dangerous derivatives trades, states should not be blocked from protecting their citizens. I have introduced legislation to empower state gambling regulators and attorneys general to examine unregulated derivatives trading and take appropriate action to protect citizens from practices which can harm the foundations of our economy.

But to protect taxpayers from the boom-bust-bailout cycle, we must fight strong Wall Street and corporate lobbying campaigns and pass derivatives reform legislation that contains absolutely no holes.

I applaud Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd for offering strong draft legislation to shed light on the dark derivatives market. It is a constructive beginning of what will likely be an extensive Senate debate – that will also include the Agriculture Committee – over how to strengthen our financial regulatory structure.

Wall Street is spending hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying Congress to protect its financial interests, which might explain why nothing has been repaired in our financial regulatory system. Knowing that public trust of Wall Street is at a low ebb, the big bankers are enlisting some of their clients – big companies that employ thousands of workers in states and districts – to lobby on their behalf.

The big companies may be arguing against their own interests. The unregulated speculation in derivatives has hurt, not helped, big businesses by siphoning money away from productivity and putting it into what amounts to sophisticated gambling. This is the hole in the bottom of our economic ship that we must repair.

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The Big Question: Will Geithner survive lawmakers' criticisms?

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

Today's question:

Sec. Timothy Geithner is once again under pressure to resign. Will Geithner survive this round of criticism from members of Congress?

Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) said:

I think he will survive if he becomes more bailout skeptical and I see him moving in that direction. I don't think the whole country holds Geithner responsible for the unemployment rate. He is not the face of the whole economy and the bailout issue is just one where people are more focused on him.


Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit blogger, said:

Geithner's tax problems, and general appearance of compromised ineptitude, are a long term bleeding wound for the Obama Administration in terms of image. On the other hand, letting him go before the 2010 elections will be a major event, and turn a slow bleed into a shorter-lived, but more dramatic, problem. I think Geithner's safe as long as healthcare is hanging fire because the Obama Administration won't want any more bad PR than it can help, but if that passes, or clearly fails, he may be at risk.

Terence Kane, Pundits Blog contributor, said:

Secretary Geithner will survive because his bears little culpability for the weak American economy. The forces that pulled the American economy into recession occurred before Secretary Geithner assumed the role of Treasury Secretary. Representative Brady (R-TX) nonsensical suggestion that the Secretary Geithner should resign, “for the sake of our jobs” betrays the conservative appreciation for the limited ability of one person to affect the employment rate of the largest economy in the world. Secretary Geithner’s record and performance as Treasury Secretary are fair game, though unfortunately for his critics, most neutral observations have him performing capably under very difficult circumstances.

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

There are very important issues about how Geithner handled the bailout of the financial industry both at the New York Fed and in his current role as Treasury Secretary. It would be beneficial to have a full discussion of these issues. Of course, Geithner has to be held accountable for his performance, but it is important that his status be decided based on a clear assessment of the record, not political expediency.

John Feehery, Pundits Blog contributor, said:

I thought Geithner would be gone the last time everyone wanted his head, but he survived, chiefly because Obama didn't want to unduly upset the markets.  For the same reason, Geithner survives this time too.

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

In his feisty response to several congressmen questioning his performance as Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner indicated quite dramatically that he has no intention of stepping aside. As for being fired, that deed would have to come from Mr. Obama's office - a very unlikley development. Geithner is a well-connected member of the internationalist establishment, even a veteran of a key Federal Reserve post. Like his teammates in the economic section of our government, Lawrence Summers and Paul Volcker, he is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. This organization had a large role in putting Obama into power, a fact that can gauged by his submitting an article to the CFR's Foreign Affairs during the election cycle in 2008. Almost all the other presidential candidates did likewise, each of them saying in effect, "I'm wiling to play ball with you. Please help me win the office." Obama is not likely to buck the CFR.

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) said:

I believe he will survive.

Justin Raimondo, editorial director of Antiwar.com, said:

Tim Geithner represents the status quo, and, as such, he is doomed. While the left (Paul Krugman) attacks him for not being activist enough, and the neocon-right (David Brooks) praises him for his “prudence,” the economy continues to tank as the bubble is deflated and all attempts by the Federal Reserve to pump the hot air back in the balloon fail. Geithner will survive, because our President, although a man of the left, is temperamentally closer to Brooks than he is to Krugman, and in this case temperament trumps ideology.

Geithner is unpopular because he champions the “too big to fail” ideology that dominates both parties (remember, both Obama and McCain supported the bailout of the banks), If Geithner goes, you can bet that the same policies will be in place.

Geithner or no Geithner, the underlying problem will not go away: Indeed it will metastasize until we are brought to the brink of the abyss: economic meltdown. The cause of this coming catastrophe is bank credit and monetary expansion, profligate government spending, and the very “stimulus” that was supposed to save us.

Bernie Quigley, Pundits Blog contributor, said:

He will survive but he shouldn’t. At the very beginning Jim Rogers, the legendary commodities guru said bluntly, “He doesn’t know what he is doing.” Time has proved this right. We are almost at the point of no return. A year from now the economy could be in ruins.

Ronald Goldfarb, Pundits Blog contributor, said:

Definitely. He has the president's confidence, and Congress is irrelevant on this question. It has no real reason to do anything but complain, its specialty.

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Why the AMERICA Works Act works for America (Rep. Debbie Halvorson, Rep. Walt Minnick, Rep. Frank Kratovil, Jr., Rep. Bobby Bright)

As members of Congress, our most urgent priority is getting the economy back on track. We remain committed to creating jobs that will put the American people back to work. To that end, this week we introduced the American Manufacturing Efficiency and Retraining Investment Collaboration Act, also known as the AMERICA Works Act (H.R. 4072).

Too often, manufacturing employers find there is a skills gap in the American workforce. We have the most industrious workers in the world, but many lack the necessary skills to succeed in a manufacturing workplace. Every year, we invest billions of dollars in federal funding for workforce development and education programs that produce mixed results.

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The Senate finance reform effort

Neglect and inaction - that's the only apt description of federal bank regulators' track record over the last decade. Consumer safeguards in the financial services arena are in theory overseen mainly by three agencies, the Office of Thrift Supervision, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve Board. In practice the three have stood virtually idle as abusive, reckless practices infected nearly every facet of financial services, ultimately costing taxpayers trillions of dollars in lost wealth.


Now two months past the anniversary of the costliest financial bailout in U.S. history, we still lack the regulatory overhaul that would bring commonsense oversight to the financial services industry and, in the process, protect consumers, taxpayers and the economy from a repeat of the current fiasco. That's why the Senate needs to quickly pass the Consumer Financial Protection Agency legislation now before it, just as the House did last month. Such an agency would streamline the existing authority now scattered - and largely ignored - among the three agencies.

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Gone with the wind: blowing U.S. tax dollars off shore

 It turns out a Texas windmill farm developer’s request last month for nearly half a billion in stimulus funds to create 2,000 jobs in China doesn’t rank first on the audacity scale.

Shockingly for American taxpayers, and sadly for the staggering 10.2 percent of Americans who are unemployed, it doesn’t even rank second.

That’s because Washington already has doled out hundreds of millions in stimulus funds to foreign renewable energy firms. Of the $1.05 billion in clean energy grants awarded by D.C., $849 million -- 84 percent -- went to foreign wind companies, according to an analysis by Russ Choma of the Investigative Reporting Workshop. He wrote:

“The cash grants were given for the installation of 1,763 megawatts of capacity – 1,566 installed by foreign companies. Using the Renewable Energy Policy Project’s own numbers, as many as 4,500 manufacturing jobs may have been created overseas.”

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How deep does the stimulus rabbit-hole go? 'Who knows, man? Who knows?' (Rep. Trent Franks)

Reports are surfacing about hundreds of fake Congressional Districts appearing on the list of locations where stimulus funds are being spent. (Note also that the fake Congressional districts in dispute on are in addition to the phony jobs being listed in legitimate districts.)

Ed Pound, Director of Communications for Recovery.com-- President Obama's stimulus "transparency" website-- uttered a scintillatingly clear response when asked about how these fictitious districts were receiving federal stimulus funds:

               "...Who knows, man? Who really knows?" 


Just another illustration of the prescient clarity we are learning to expect from the Obama Administration.

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The Big Question: Will the deficit or jobs be more important in '10?

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

Today's question:

Which issue will be more important to voters in 2010 -- the deficit or jobs?


John Castellani,
president of Business Roundtable, said:

This is not an either-or situation but rather one that requires a yes-and approach. My organization’s top priority is to push for policies that will create more and better-paying jobs for U.S. workers. At the same time, it’s clear that the large deficits forecast over the next few years are simply unsustainable over the long-term. In short, we must find a way to create more jobs that will support today’s workforce, but not at the expense of laying untenable debt obligations and sky-high inflation at the feet of future generations.

One effective approach to this challenge is to create more competitive international tax policies and increase our nation’s international trade and investment. The Administration’s decision this week to actively participate in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations is an encouraging sign that our President understands that expanding trade is a fundamental (and deficit-free) way to create well-paying U.S. jobs. In fact, it is one of the only approaches that would cost our country almost nothing while supporting the fragile recovery and, most importantly, promoting job growth.

Bernie Quigley, Pundits blog contributor, said:

Deficits and a new approach. The Virginia race set the new paradigm. The conservative Bob McDonald won by 17%. This is an astonishing change of political culture. Jobs are important but the country - the heartland - sees and understands that we are not a country of factory workers and field hands as we were in the 1830s and it is incongruous to use these strategies with the kind of work force we have today. The Virginia governor's race in 2008 was prelude to 2010. 2010 will be prelude to 2012.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said:

Where I come from, jobs.

Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) said:

I just did some town hall meetings in Nebraska, and I do these all the time. I can tell you, it's jobs, economy and deficit -- all these things.

Healthcare's getting a lot of attention right now, and people are very, very mad about it. People see the waste in it. I was in the Bush administration's second term, and the honeymoon was over. People were mad. Well, this administration's redefined big government, big spending and big debt. I think anybody in leadership who ignores the anger of the American voter at this point in time is in very serious trouble. I don't see how you can survive any re-election. Their concern is economy, jobs and spending, and those guys are talking about healthcare and climate change. There's a disconnect, and the American people don't want to be ignored.

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said:

Both. I don't think its 'either-or'. We've got to do things that strengthen the economy and help job creation, but also, simultaneously, we have to commit to a long-term plan to deal with the debt. Both jobs and debt affect the economy."

Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) said:

Jobs, of course, is key and that is what we're working on in the Senate. I'm pretty sure you'll see a job bill once we work on healthcare.

In Illinois, we need jobs. You're looking at over 10.5 percent unemployment in Illinois and across the country. So what we need now in order to get this economy going and the deficit down is people working. We also have to bring back manufacturing jobs.

We're started work on the prison for Guantanamo prisoners which could help the economy and be a major boost to the western part of the state, which is devastated by unemployment."

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

Despite the efforts of groups like the one I lead, the American people do not have as solid an appreciation of the destructiveness of deficits as they should.  The need for jobs will, therefore, be a greater concern for a sizeable number of voters.  But if this concern leads to government "creating" jobs with more spending and greater deficits, the current economic travails will only worsen. Jobs created by the private sector are real; jobs created by government are an additional problem, not a solution.

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

People care about jobs. They don't even know what the deficit is. The reporters at the major news outlets who cover the deficit don't know what the deficit is.

Suppose President Obama manages to cut the deficit by 50 percent from 2009 to 2010, leaving a deficit of around $800 billion. (For the record, this would be an absurdly large amount of deficit reduction.) The Republicans would still run around the country complaining about an $800 billion deficit! They would tell their audiences that President Obama was adding more than $2 billion a day to the national debt -- money that will have to be repaid by our children and grandchildren.

The major news outlets like National Public Radio and the Washington Post would write balance pieces saying things like: "the Obama administration boasts about its success in deficit reduction, but Republicans point out that the deficit is still the second highest ever, exceeded only by the deficit that President Obama ran in 2009."

The politics of deficit reduction are a deadend and President Obama and his team are far too smart to go that route. Their focus will be on creating jobs. This is what matters to the public -- and thankfully it is also what is good for the economy.

Michelle D. Bernard, president & CEO of the Independent Women’s Forum, said:

When more than 1 in 10 Americans is out of work and looking for a job, and many more are working fewer hours than they would like, jobs and the economic climate will be the number one issue on voters' minds.
 
Yet as people think about the overall health of the economy, they will consider if current spending and deficit trends are sustainable.  And it is clearly not, or at least not without serious repercussions.  In the short term, many may be willing to trade more debt today if it bought us job creation and economic growth, but after the first so-called "stimulus" bill and the current debate about spending another trillion dollars on health care, few believe that this Congress is using deficit spending to create jobs.  Far from it, much of what has been and is being proposed are giveaways to interest  groups and expand government's reach as an end in itself.
 
Jobs will be foremost in most people's mind, but the reckless expansion of government--both in terms of power and in terms of debt--will also motivate a lot of voters.

Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, said:

I feel jobs will be much more important. The challenge will be for voters to remember that job losses were caused by neglect, etc, in the middle years of this decade. Sometimes, it's hard to remember that.

Stuart Roy, Pundits Blog contributor, said:

This would be an easy question if it weren’t a false dichotomy. The era of Ross Perot and his famous charts was the last time deficit reduction was sexy. But even that wasn’t enough for the businessman cum politician.

But that is not the choice facing policy makers today. The available polling shows a growing unease with the growth, scope and ineptitude of government. The deficit is a symptom of that. While the deficit alone is generally abstract Americans sense the connection with their real lives. That leads us to jobs.

The jobs side of the equation is about more than the government spending billions to create some temporary make-work jobs and many fictional jobs. In fact, that severely adds to the anxiety about the growth and cost of government. And it’s ineptitude. Americans are concerned about the future – will my job still exist and will it just remain stagnant if it does? - as they are about the right-now.

There is a solution: Job-growth tax relief. A bitter bill for the majority party who despises tax cuts but a proven remedy. Some taxes build revenue for the Treasury, some don’t. Target the ones that do. They generally happen to be the same ones that promote job growth. And cut spending. Return TARP money to the Treasury for deficit reduction. Use unspent so-called Stimulus funds for deficit reduction or target it to “offset” tax relief. Let the cap and trade bill die a peaceful death or severely alter its contents. 

Americans, especially those with jobs, will respond to a trend line on the deficit going the right direction even if it isn’t fully corrected by the next election.

Justin Raimondo, editorial director of Antiwar.com, said:

The government’s deficit, by now, is considered a permanent fact of reality, which most voters are cynical about: they recognize lawmakers will continue to spend, handing out goodies to their friends. That’s the way of Washington. Aside from which, the deficit is an abstraction: most voters believe (as do their elected representatives, apparently) that all Congress has to do is vote to raise the debt limit, and that “solves” the problem – although they have an uneasy feeling that it really is just staving off the inevitable (which never seems to come, or, at least, won’t arrive in their lifetime).

The jobs issue has an immediacy, however, that cannot be put off – especially when you have a mortgage to pay and no income, or greatly-reduced income. What most voters don’t realize, however, is that the jobs issue and rising government debt are inextricably linked.

As the Obama administration continues on its course of propping up companies supposedly “too big to fail,” soaking up available investment capital, punishing savers, and harassing employers with costly new regulations, capital will flee the country – and the ranks of the employed will continue to shrink.

With unemployment growing, and the economy going into a tailspin, voters are bound  to notice that some are prospering, however – the politically-connected. As more people lose their jobs, and the government announces more bailout measures, traditional concern with deficit spending and despair over job losses will combine into an all-encompassing populist rage – and then, watch out.

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Trade is best stimulus (Rep. Dave Reichert)

President Obama’s trip to Asia this week comes at a critical economic time for American workers. With unemployment eclipsing 10 percent, it’s clear that the stimulus package passed by Congress has so far proven ineffective in getting Americans back to work.

Free trade, a pillar of economic recovery that has been overlooked, plays a pivotal role in growing our economy and creating American jobs. Opening new markets to trade is a proven stimulus and job creator that comes without a several hundred billion dollar bill for taxpayers.

Among the many stops on his trip this week, President Obama will visit South Korea, a critical trading partner for the U.S. and one with whom we’ve had a free trade agreement pending congressional approval for more than two years. This visit presents the President the perfect opportunity to convey to the world that the U.S. remains open to global trade, and to assure American workers we will continue to support them and pursue every opportunity to create jobs and spur innovation.

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