Saturday, June 05, 2010

Can We Afford $100 Billion Jobs Bill?

In a new opinion piece at, Maya MacGuineas (president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and the director of the Fiscal Policy Program at the New America Foundation) examines the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act recently passed by the House of Representatives. As she explains, the legislation would cost more than $100 billion and add about $50 billion to the deficit.

This does not include the tens of billions that will be part of a supplemental spending measure, which will deficit-finance war spending and other "emergency" measures.

That's a lot of borrowing to add to a debt that already exceeds $8 trillion. It raises a host of questions. Does the economy need measures to help with job creation? Are these the best measures? Should they be paid for or simply added to the deficit?

Obviously, the unemployment rate is still far too high. Although there are pockets of growing employment and other encouraging economic signs, job growth will likely lag during the recovery. As the unemployment rate hovers close to 10 percent and families struggle to deal with the potentially devastating effects of sustained joblessness, efforts to ease the pain are indeed warranted.

The problem is that no clear-cut way exists to use federal dollars to promote sustainable job growth. The House bill includes an extension of unemployment benefits, a bump-up in slated federally-funded physician payments, and an extension of some expiring tax breaks. Would this create a host of shiny new jobs? Unlikely!

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