Looks like President Obama needs to pull a rabbit out of his hat Thursday night. The reviews are in over what's been leaked about his big jobs speech and they're not particularly glowing, even from his natural constituency.
"It sounds like a mixed bag," says Tamara Draut, vice president of Policy and Programs at Demos, a left-leaning think tank.
While Draut applauds some of the ideas reportedly in Obama's plan, like extending the payroll tax cut, continued support for unemployed, infrastructure spending and support for state and local government, she wants more. "I'm slightly optimistic but it's probably not bold enough," Draut says of Obama's plan. (See: Politically, It's D.O.A. But Is Obama's Jobs Plan a Good One?)
Specifically, she advocates a "temporary, direct public jobs program" to put millions of unemployed Americans — particularly the long-term unemployed — back to work doing "meaningful jobs" like childcare, elder-care, retrofitting office buildings, cleaning up after Hurricane Irene and more generic infrastructure repair.
In the accompanying video, Draut discusses her "wish list" for the President's speech and also seeks to shoot down some of the common (to her) misconceptions about why job growth is so slow:
Too much regulation: "We lost millions of jobs due a deregulated financial marketplace," she says. "The idea we need to keep deregulating in order to create jobs it's almost flabbergasting to think this is part of our policy discussion." Furthermore, Draut notes there was almost no major new regulation between 2007 and 2009, a period during which the unemployment rate jumped from 4.6% to 9.3%.
Obama Care: While the CBO says the President's health care plan would have a "small" impact on the labor force, Draut disagrees. "It can't be true," she says, because most healthcare legislation doesn't go into effect until 2014. And one big piece of the program, a tax credit for small businesses, has already begun, meaning it's been a net positive for business owners, according to her analysis.
Taxes Are Too High: Taxes have been trending lower since the early 2000s. Meanwhile, "job growth has been anemic and income for middle class households have declined," Draut says. "The idea tax cuts spur economic growth and job growth is not at all proven by what we've seen."
As you've probably surmised by now, Draut is an advocate of more government spending to spur growth and put Americans back to work.
"We have go to get more [consumer] demand out there and that means pumping more money into the economy," she says, suggesting the $300 billion expected from President Obama is not enough.