Friday, February 6, 2009

More jobs, maybe, or nothing

As I'm writing this, Congress is fooling around with the economic stimulus bill. One of the primary objections, particularly from Republicans, is that there's too much in the bill which will fail to create jobs. Considering that the official unemployment rate jumped to 7.6% (and I haven't been able to find the newest calculation of the U-6 rate, which gives a better idea of where we are), one can certainly understand why job creation would be the highest priority.

I've written before that I have questions and concerns about whether Obama's economic plan will create jobs in the numbers forecast. There are now too many other places companies can get work done, some of the jobs may well not be incremental, and it seems focused on some sectors, absent in others.

However, since we're not going to get answers to any of these questions from either side of the aisle, the lack of an offered alternative is troubling. Sure, I find the administration's numbers rosy, but what would the Republicans do? Nothing? How many jobs will that create?

Because that's the choice, spend some money in hopes of creating some jobs, or doing nothing and praying that the free market will magically create those jobs. From a long-term perspective, I might prefer to let the market have its way here, but people need to eat and be housed in the short term. So we should do something.

The challenge will be to unwind this in time, to move government back out when the market is back on its feet, and there is certainly the danger that they won't. One of the bigger risks here is massive inflation, so we'll have to hope the adults are paying attention.

But Congress is either going to have to go along with what is on the table, or put something there that's better. And I don't trust them to do that at all.

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