It's Not a Jobs Bill. But It's Close!

More

Howard Gleckman offers a fair, but slightly overstated, case against the next stimulus bill in his piece "The No-Jobs Bill." His main beef is with the $32 billion in tax credit "extenders." Those are the temporary tax goodies we don't want to yank away just yet. (If you want to see them for yourself, check out this PDF.)

Some of these extenders -- to help out NASCAR racetrack owners, Indian reservations, rum importers, and the like -- would be hilarious if they didn't represent actual taxpayer dollars at work. But others aren't that vile, like the $6 billion in tax credits for small businesses and $1.5 billion to help students deduct tuition money from their tax bill.

Gleckman concludes that "for better or worse you won't find much real stimulus in this bill." Two points on that. First, unemployment insurance and state aid are among most effective stimulus measures out there according to Moody's Economy, and they're at the center of this bill.

Second, it's worth pointing out again that a "jobs bill" is a funny concept. The federal government can only create private sector jobs the way Alex Rodriguez can beat the Boston Red Sox. A-Rod can go four-for-four with four home runs, but he's 1/18th of the game. He certainly can't pitch, or bat for the other eight guys on his team. Similarly, the Senate jobs bill is only about 0.7% of the economy. The federal government can increase disposable income by billions of dollars, but families don't have to spend that cash, and even if they do, businesses don't have to used that spent income to hire new workers. The best A-Rod and the federal government can do is create the conditions in which their definition of success is more likely.

To support the jobs bill, as I do and most of my readers don't, is not to equate unemployment insurance with MiracleGro. It's to say that states are cutting back and retail sales are slowing, and sound economics says we can pass measures that make job creating, or saving, more likely.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

A Technicolor Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier

Video

What Do You Wish You Learned in College?

Ivy League academics reveal their undergrad regrets

Video

Famous Movies, Reimagined

From Apocalypse Now to The Lord of the Rings, this clever video puts a new spin on Hollywood's greatest hits.

Video

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In