Does the Meager Jobs Bill Have a Point?

Sure, it's got bipartisan support--but little else

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President Obama today signed the $18 billion Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act, better known as the "jobs" bill, which attracted a remarkable 11 Republican votes in the rarely bipartisan Senate. The meager bill isn't expected to single-handedly save the U.S. economy, even if it was pleasantly bipartisan. So what will it do?

  • Obama: Nice But Not Enough  Even President Obama couldn't muster great enthusiasm. He said upon signing, "While this jobs bill is absolutely necessary, it is by no means enough. There is a lot more we need to do to spur hiring in the private sector and bring about a full economic recovery; from helping creditworthy small businesses get the loans they need to expand, to offering incentives to make homes and businesses more energy-efficient, to investing in infrastructure so we can put Americans to work doing the work America needs done." Obama said he was "grateful" for the Republicans who voted for the bill.
  • Looks Great, Does Little  The Atlantic's Derek Thompson separates the good politics from the middling policy. "What it looks like is good. It's bipartisan (11 Republicans voted for it) and it's pro-active about reducing unemployment. What it can actually do is not so good. For $18 billion in hiring tax credits, the Congressional Budget Office predicted we won't create more than 300,000 jobs. Optimistically, this moves forward our job creation by about a month and a half."
  • Just a Small First Step  This is the conventional wisdom and has been admitted even by the White House, according to NBC News' Athena Jones. "While acknowledging the $17.6 billion jobs bill was 'by no means enough' and that more must be done to jump-start hiring in the private sector, the president said the measures included in the bill would help."
  • Reveals Futility of Legislating Job Growth  Time's Barbara Kiviat insists that legislation won't directly solve the jobs problem. "Private enterprise is the great American job-creation machine. The best thing Congress can do at this point is get out of the way—and getting out of the way includes making a decision (any decision, for crying out loud) about what health care will look like going forward."
  • Want Jobs? Kill Health Care Reform  Grover Norquist and David Tuerck make the counter-intuitive case that, because "One in eight Americans now work in the health-care sector" and because "it has been almost the only sector of the economy to add jobs during the recession," reining in health care's wild inefficiencies would be bad for jobs.
When Senator Bunning demurred
On the jobs bill the Senate conferred,
His friends on the right
Slowly backed out of sight,
‘Til at last the poor Senator concurred.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.