Evaluating a Second Stimulus for Jobs

Columnists split along partisan lines to debate whether more government intervention is needed to fix unemployment

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With unemployment hovering around 10 percent, the debate over how to regain jobs has yielded a number of interesting ideas, but it is the specter of a second stimulus — focused on putting Americans back to work — that has generated the most buzz among columnists. Would it work?

  • Yes, and It's a Political Inevitability, E.J. Dionne writes at The Washington Post. "A more aggressive approach to jobs is inevitable because high unemployment over a long period not only is a social and economic calamity but also stands as the biggest obstacle Democrats face in the 2010 voting. Rarely have an administration's economic and political imperatives been so closely aligned."
  • That'd Be Nice, But It's Not Going to Happen, Ezra Klein writes at The Washington Post. He says Congress won't approve another stimulus, but argues that tax cuts designed to create jobs would "do a lot of good, and relatively cheaply compared with other methods of creating jobs." While tax cuts aren't ideal, Klein says "some estimates suggest that the policy proposals floating around could create two million jobs at a cost of $20,000 a job. For now, that's probably the best we can do." At The New York Times, Bob Herbert agreed. "A massive long-term campaign to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure — which would put large numbers of people to work establishing the essential industrial platform for a truly 21st-century American economy" is necessary, but hasn't "seriously been considered" by the White House, he wrote.
  • Only Way to Prevent Decades of High Unemployment, Harold Meyerson writes at The Washington Post. "There's a way to break that cycle: public investment. We need to augment our current stimulus program with further federal investments that restore and build transportation projects and that professionalize and enlarge our child-care and senior-care sectors. We need to do more to bolster 'green' construction and manufacturing, and to ensure that such federally backed manufacturing takes place in the United States."
  • Reduce Taxes Instead, Larry Kudlow writes at The National Review.
As the White House considers a second stimulus package, here’s another thought: Go for growth. Reduce tax rates to provide growth incentives (something Team Obama has avoided like the plague). Cut the top corporate tax rate from 35 to 25 percent, and accompany that with a small-business tax cut from 35 to 25 percent. And leave the Bush tax cuts alone. Don’t let them expire in 2011. That’s cap-gains, dividends, and the top personal rate.
  • It Didn't Work The First Time, Cal Thomas writes at The Washington Times. "Given the job losses since the last stimulus, I'm not sure we can stand more of that kind of stimulation. Never mind that millions from the first stimulus cannot be found and that billions more have yet to be spent. And how soon Democrats forget their once-great concern about burdening future generations with debt and dependency."
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