Zachary Karabell: Obama’s Futile Jobs Plan

September 8th, 2011

The Daily Beast
By Zachary Karabell
Sept 8, 2011

By now, the White House has leaked the most salient aspects of President Obama’s plan to reinvigorate the American jobs market. It is said to amount to $300 billion, give or take, the largest component being an extension of both the current payroll tax break and unemployment insurance benefits. The rest will consist of education grants for retraining, some form of infrastructure spending with yet another call for a public-private partnership in the form of an infrastructure bank, and direct aid to state and local governments to stave off teacher layoffs. The White House also has hinted at some as-yet-undisclosed ideas to be unveiled during his speech to Congress, and has not even officially confirmed any of the above.

Assuming that the outline is correct and that Obama does not at the final hour change course, the plan is at the very least a failure and at worst (or best if you’re a Republican) a beginning of the end for the Obama presidency. For one, the dollar amount is very, very small. The economic output of the United States this year will exceed $15 trillion and yet is failing to provide meaningful employment for millions. Granted, it is also providing meaningful employment for many millions more, but the United States was never a society that assumed success meant that most people were thriving. It is a system and a culture that demand that even the least advantaged have opportunities, and on that score, the perception is that America today does not offer that.

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