Democrats need to take an ice-cold shower and view the coming election with cold, clear eyes. At this moment, at best, Democrats will lose enough seats to destroy any working majority for any substantial agenda in the next Congress.
The No. 1 issue in the 2010 campaign, by far, is jobs. Americans want jobs, not talking points about jobs. The inability of official Washington to focus like a laser beam on creating jobs is one of the great cases of attention deficit disorder in political history.
The greatest source of discontent toward both political parties is that few reap great wealth after massive bailouts, while many endure great pain from closed factories and jobs outsourced to slave-wage nations.
Democrats need a game-changer. The game-changer is a major jobs program modeled after the successful housing tax credits and cash-for-clunkers program, for which the president and Democrats deserve some credit.
1. The president and Congress should enact a substantial tax credit for new job creation that would become effective immediately and expire Oct. 31, 2010.
2. For new hires that increase net company jobs, the tax credit should be $10,000 per new employee hired in May or June, $7,500 for those hired in July or August and $5,000 for those hired in September or October.
3. The tax cut should be financed by a tax on bank profits, speculative trading and/or Wall Street bonuses at bailed-out firms. It should replace the program in the financial bill that would transition failing firms, which would be removed in my plan. The $50 billion raised in the current bill would be applied instead to the jobs tax credit along with any additional bank levies needed to pay for the jobs bill.
4. The jobs bill would be passed on a fast track at the same time as the financial bill. Republicans would be asked to give bipartisan support for the jobs bill in return for removing the provision they oppose on the financial bill.
Senate Republicans might filibuster the jobs bill. If they do, the Senate should remain in session 24/7 in a “High Noon”-style showdown. Do Republicans want to campaign on placing Wall Street profits ahead of Main Street jobs?
This jobs bill would work the way the housing tax credits worked. They jumped housing sales as expiration neared. It would work the way cash-for-clunkers worked. It jumped auto sales as expiration neared.
Do Republicans want to mourn the comeback of the American auto industry that was virtually destroyed by Republican policies?
Some Republicans might support this jobs tax credit. It could become law within weeks. Do Republicans want to be “the party of no” while Democrats fight for small businesses to create American jobs through private-sector growth?
Even many on Wall Street would support this. It would create demand, increase earnings and profit for investors and workers alike. The opposition would be led by Republican partisans who are hoping America fails to score political points, and Wall Street sharpies who are betting America fails to make a fast buck at America’s expense.
The game-changer for Democrats is to fight for every last job while they fight for every last vote.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at email@example.com.