Once again, we’re not talking about jobs.
We–the DC crowd–talked about jobs for half-a-New-York minute. But we quickly shifted back to debt downgrades, baselines (again with the *&%!! baselines!), and tax revenues.
This is really a deeply unsettling development. It’s one thing to argue that the political forces are solidly aligned against doing what desperately needs to be done on the jobs front. I’m not there yet, but I get the argument.
It’s wholly another to accept that conservative, anti-Keynesian forces from outer-space are controlling our national policy debate with a hypnosis ray that forces everyone in DC to avoid debating what the rest of the country wants us to debate: how to get this economy back on track.
I know—I too have not always resisted this force. But I’m trying.
While all this debt ceiling junk was going on, Mary Filardo, Ross Eisenbrey, and I were developing the FAST! idea—Fix America’s Schools Today.
As OTEers know, this is a national infrastructure program to repair, retrofit, insulate and “green-up” the nation’s stock of public schools. Importantly, it’s structured to be labor-intensive (as opposed to capital-intensive–this is key in today’s infrastructure efforts), ready-to-go, based on existing formulas and practices re distribution of the resources, and highly visible in communities across the country.
It’s also scalable. We could fix some schools and get a bunch of folks facing very high unemployment rates back to work with a $20 billion investment. But the extent of the backlog could easily absorb hundreds of billions.
With respect to the debt-ray from outer space, we’ve identified a “payfor:” the $46 billion (over 10 years) in new revenues from closing tax preferences that go to the fossil fuel industry. It a sensible payfor in that a central longer term goal of FAST! is greater energy efficiency, leading to energy savings for public school districts.
We’d expect a program of that magnitude to generate around half-a-million jobs.
There, I just talked about jobs and nothing bad happened to me! Fellow wonks and policy makers: resist the debt-ray!