No great surprises in Obama's speech on jobs. As expected, he proposed additional tax relief for small firms, including "a tax incentive to encourage small businesses to add and keep employees"; lower fees and bigger guarantees for loans backed by the Small Business Administration; some additional infrastructure spending; "incentives for consumers who retrofit their homes to become more energy efficient"; and extended unenmployment benefits and other reliefs. TARP repayments will help to meet the cost.
There are those who claim we have to choose between paying down our deficits on the one hand, and investing in job creation and economic growth on the other. But this is a false choice. Ensuring that economic growth and job creation are strong and sustained is critical to ensuring that we are increasing revenues and decreasing spending on things like unemployment so that our deficits will start coming down. At the same time, instilling confidence in our commitment to being fiscally prudent gives the private sector the confidence to make long-term investments in our people and on our shores.
No specifics on restoring long-term budget control. The overall theme was modesty. Obama pitched these new proposals not as a bold "second stimulus" but as bunch of good small ideas to build on the first. The administration perceives that its fiscal options have narrowed. The recovery had better not fizzle out.