Thursday, November 18, 2010

Why Alan Grayson is Right on a Federal Jobs Program

Alan Grayson will not go quietly into the night. Grayson makes an argument that instead of the federal governmenmt losing $100 billion-a-year by extending the Bush tax cuts for top earners. The $100 billion could be used for a jobs program. Franklin Delano Roosevelt's jobs program was able to put 4 million people to work in two months. Obama's stimulus idea of throwing money at the private sector was the economic equivalent. Obama is a neoliberal. He wanted money thrown at private contractors for the same reason public dollars is thrown at the health insurance industry. Obama and other neoliberals eject the achievements of the New Deal and Great Society.

If Obama studied history he would have understood FDR through the Public Works Administration.

The Public Works Administration (PWA) was a New Deal agency in the United States headed by Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes. It was created by the National Industrial Recovery Act in June 1933 in response to the Great Depression. It concentrated on the construction of large-scale public works such as dams and bridges, with the goal of providing employment, stabilizing purchasing power, and contributing to a revival of American industry. Most of the spending came in two waves in 1933-35, and again in 1938. The PWA was closed down in 1939.

It is much easier to have the federal government directly hire people for federal projects. Obama could have politically and factually said that Roosevelt's jobs program was successful. Obama's neoliberal ideology could not support a federal jobs program; in the same manner Obama refused to back universal health care. Obama believes in a hybrid of government and private partnerships. Obama in closer to Jeb Bush than Alan Grayson. Personally, I think Obama is politically cautious and never gave the merits of the stimulus v. a jobs program any thought.

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