How to Make the Jobs Summit More Than Just a Photo-Op

6 things President Obama can do to make the White House jobs summit count

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On Thursday, President Obama will convene some of the sharpest business minds in the country to discuss ways to bring jobs back to America. With the unemployment rate stuck above 10 percent, the issue demands redress, but some fear the summit will turn out to be nothing more than a "glorified public relations stunt"--a cheap way for the president to look attentive to the unemployment crisis without having to take politically unpopular action. If Obama is ready to get serious about job creation, however, columnists have a few ideas about how to do it. Here are six things that could make the White House jobs summit pay off:

  • Produce an Agenda For Creating Jobs  The editorial board of The New York Times says the crisis demands more than talk. "Americans need to know how the administration plans to reduce a 10.2 percent unemployment rate — a 26-year high and rising." Jobs, they argue, should be the top priority. "Economic growth alone cannot repair damage that severe."
  • Leave Business Alone  At The Washington Post, Robert Samuelson says jobs will come when business is allowed to succeed. "Obama's unwillingness to advance trade agreements (notably, with Colombia and South Korea) has hurt exports. The hostility to oil and gas drilling penalizes one source of domestic investment spending. More important, the decision to press controversial proposals (health care, climate change) was bound to increase uncertainty and undermine confidence."
  • Deal With Unemployment First, and the Deficit Second  At AOL's Sphere, Lawrence Mishel says "we can't address the deficit without first putting people back to work." Mishel hopes that "if any consensus emerges from Thursday's White House summit on jobs," it's that we should "deal with unemployment first and the deficit second."
  • Build Momentum For a Bold Jobs Bill  At The Nation, Katrina Vanden Heuvel says "now is not a time for deficit-hawk hysteria." Instead, the jobs summit should create "real momentum for a bold jobs bill that the people of this nation desperately need." Heuvel says the government has to act. "The private sector can't get that job done at this moment--the government must fill the void."
  • Don't Leave the Poor and People of Color Behind  At Salon, Angela Blackwell says "an economic recovery that doesn’t lift up low-income people and communities of color is no recovery at all." With unemployment rates of some communities approaching upward of 15 percent, Blackwell says Obama should create a "21st century economy that serves everyone."
  • Let Capitalism Do Its Thing  Evan Newmark of The Wall Street Journal says the jobs summit is no more than "Washington political theater." Why? Because "the jobs summit will fail for the same reason Obamanomics is failing: The White House mistakenly believes economic growth and new jobs are created by society’s stakeholders — business, labor and government — cooperatively working together. But that’s not the way capitalism works. It doesn’t take a village to create a new job. It takes a businessman trying to make another buck."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.