The jobs dilemma

Whether one is Democrat or Republican, a Keynesian or a supply-sider, you may be confused about the best means to spur job development in our stagnant economy.

Take President Barack Obama’s latest jobs plan, announced last night. Economists say parts of it may be helpful, such as extending the cut in the payroll tax for Social Security. But other provisions, such as spending hundreds of billions on another round of government projects such as road-and-bridge building, or giving tax credits to companies that hire new workers, would do little to create jobs immediately or for the long term.

Or consider Republican Mitt Romney’s proposals, unveiled earlier this week. His plan would freeze marginal income tax rates, reduce the corporate income tax rate and repeal the estate tax. Romney also says he would “eliminate taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains for low- and middle-income taxpayers.”

The Wall Street Journal, normally a solid supporter of tax cuts, called Romney’s plan “surprisingly timid and tactical considering our economic predicament.”

Then there is the dispute over extending unemployment benefits. Some say that is needed to ensure those without jobs have enough money to pay their bills and make purchases. Others argue, and we tend to agree, that allowing benefits to extend two years and more has proved a disincentive for many to actively seek jobs. There are too many reports from employers about jobs going unfilled.

We don’t pretend to have the answer for the jobs dilemma. The depressing fact is that even the experts who claim to know aren’t really certain. Still, we continue to look for a big fix from politicians who seem to be groping in the dark just like the rest of us.


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