Fareed Zakaria on Jobs Obama is right to criticize Republicans for being passive on the employment crisis, writes Fareed Zakaria in The Washington Post, but to improve his election chances, he really needs to improve employment numbers with policies that can actually pass Congress. In the past 20 years, America has had more and more difficulty creating jobs during recession recovery periods. Before 1990, it typically took six months to return to pre-recession employment levels. In 2001, it took 39 months. And at the current rate, we won't return to pre-2008 employment for five years. Zakaria says this coincides with two important trends: the rise in information technology and globalization. To point out how technology leads to declines in jobs, he write, "Today, computer programs that do conceptual searches are used at law firms to read and code documents, replacing the dozens of young associates who used to be hired and paid handsomely to do the same job." Globalization has been important for U.S. companies but has increased pressure for unprepared U.S. workers. "As Bill Gross, the founder of the world’s largest bond fund, Pimco, succinctly put it, 'Our labor force is too expensive and poorly educated for today's marketplace.'" The government will need to make jobs its first priority. In some cases, this will mean spending more money. Zakaria likes the proposal for an independent but government backed infrastructure bank. Tourism too, "one of the largest growth industries," should be encouraged, with streamlined visa processes. All of this will take cooperation and a common goal in Congress.
The Wall Street Journal on Debating Fed Policy Though Rick Perry chose the wrong words to criticize the Fed's monetary policy, he is right to make it a campaign issue, writes The Wall Street Journal editorial board. He should not have said Fed chief Ben Bernanke would be "treasonous" or "treacherous" to print more money. "Both of those words ought to be reserved for specific acts of betrayal against America, and the Fed chief is certainly a patriot," they write. On the other hand, "[t]he faux-outrage from liberals who routinely refer to the tea party as 'terrorists' shouldn't be taken seriously." Though Perry is often compared to George W. Bush, on monetary policy he differs from the "easy-money, weak-dollar President." Perry understands what the middle class knows--that their real income has not increased in 10 years. "[E]ven as the recovery is supposedly underway, their meager salary increases are being washed away with another burst of commodity inflation caused by near-zero interest rates and quantitative easing," they write. Meanwhile, some economists are calling for slight and steady inflation as a solution to our debt problem. While debating policy, we should also debate politics and question the Fed's independence, as it often seems too close to the White House, The Journal board writes. "Mr. Bernanke sometimes seems to be a veritable arm of the Treasury, reinforcing its fiscal and regulatory agendas at every opportunity." Perry should pick his words more carefully, but he should not be deterred from raising these issues in the 2012 debate, they conclude.