A Jobs Agenda for Republicans

by David Frum

I suggest some ideas in the Financial Times today.

A vote to repeal healthcare would be symbolic only: even if repeal passed, which it would not, the president would veto it. Extending the Bush tax cuts would be helpful to long-term economic growth – but hardly constitutes an effective anti-recession measure. The Bush tax cuts have been in force since 2001 and 2003. The crash of October 2008 and the ensuing recession happened anyway. The medicine that did not prevent the disease is hardly likely to cure it.

Yet there are policy improvements that Republicans could deliver – and which would help lift the country out of the worst recession since 1945. The first is a payroll tax holiday. Mr Obama added $787bn to the national debt with a poorly designed “fiscal stimulus” that did little to create jobs. Now is the time for a Republican alternative. The US collects about $40bn a month from the payroll tax that funds Social Security and Medicare. A one-year holiday from such payments would put money in workers’ pockets and encourage employers to hire, at only a little more than half the cost of the Obama stimulus. The holiday would have been a great idea in January 2009. It still is now.