If the debt ceiling standoff was orchestrated theater -- not real --
sort of what Congress used to do each year in flamboyantly threatening
to cut off trade with China by refusing to renew Most Favored Nation
trade status (which was always a fake threat and eventually evolved into
Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China) -- then the nation has yet
again allowed itself to be duped into distraction about something not
real while abandoning what mattered: the nation's wrenching jobs
Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Politicians talk about this a lot during elections --
but when they suit up and finish their workout in the Congressional
gym, they get on a different track and perform lines of a script not
determined by what the nation really needs but rather what drives
anxiety levels up, just to be brought down with a massive blast of
relief before some crisis was averted. It's like a big DC live act
version of 535 Senators and Congressmen wanting to be Harrison Ford in Air Force One.
According to McKinsey & Co.,
America needs to create 21 million jobs by 2020 and isn't getting there
fast. According to the entrepreneurship-focused Kauffman Foundation
which just released in Washington a set of proposals called "The Startup Act", all new net job creation in the US comes from young firms -- which are en masse
performing today far below par and could use a boost like the issuance
of entrepreneurship visas and capital gains waivers for long term
investment in startups -- both of which would be job creating. Starwood
Hotels CEO Frits van Paasschen told me a few days ago at The Atlantic's big jobs forum
that one way to generate a huge number of new jobs across the US
service sector is to double or triple the tourist visa issuance capacity
of Chinese visitors who want to visit and see the US. The demand is
there -- but we have a wall up against it and are thus are essentially
saying "no" to a key source of demand abroad while demand is flat at
Others are talking jobs and how to create demand too. In fact, my colleagues at the New America Foundation are having a program today with Leo Hindery, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA), Sherle Schwenninger, National Journal's Michael Hirsh and others on jobs creation.
And on Monday morning, I will be moderating at UCLA a panel
with California Governor Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown, NRG Energy CEO David
Crane, Google green stuff czar Rick Needham, and SolarCity CEO Lyndon
Rive on building out locally generated renewable energy resources which
also pumps demand and could be a significant job creator (the meeting will stream live on my page).
But instead of jumping on the jobs crisis, Congress and the White House
have chosen to wrestle over debt and over the broad question of economic
solvency of the country.
We don't entirely know what the outcome of this debt ceiling limit stage performance will
be -- but it seems 99.9% sure that both sides will emerge with smiles,
the audience across America tuning in each morning to Morning Joe and Fox & Friends
will feel the emotional highs of disaster averted, but the real work on
America's employment disaster is what remains out on the streets.