Pres. Obama’s ‘American Jobs Act’: Focused, Forward Looking, Equitable & Fiscally Responsible

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With the proposal of the $447 billion ‘American Jobs Act’ to a joint session of Congress Thursday night, President Obama again demonstrated his ability to recognize and zoom in on the key issues and challenges facing the US today.

Job creation has become issue Number 1 on the political and public agenda, and with the ‘American Jobs Act,’ Pres. Obama and his administration have wasted no time in crafting a program that appears focused, forward looking, equitable and fiscally pragmatic.

Like it or not, America’s large corporations are as or more keen to invest in emerging economies, such as Brazil, China and India, than they are in developed economies, such as the US and EU. Governments in emerging market countries, such as China, play a much stronger, more active role in crafting nationalist and mercantile economic policies than does the US, providing advantageous financial support and incentives to companies in economic sectors they view as strategic and promising.

With the US economy threatened, and still overburdened, with a bad debt overhang that resulted from the massive misallocation of financial capital to housing and housing construction and a historic rescinding of banking regulations, the federal government was forced to step in and rescue banks, insurers, the major auto companies and other private sector businesses deemed too big to fail.

It’s that type of concentration of economic and market power, the tendency toward building monopolies and the dangerous skewing of income and wealth distribution that results, that continues to threaten and pervert US capitalism, innovation and economic opportunity. It’s also what government leaders since the founding of the nation repeatedly and vociferously warned against.

With emerging market countries growing fast, driving up demand for limited natural resources and putting ever greater pressures on the environment, in Thursday night’s speech President Obama rhetorically asked, “What’s the best way to grow the economy and create jobs?

“Should we keep tax loopholes for oil companies? Or should we use that money to give small business owners a tax credit when they hire new workers? Because we can’t afford to do both.”

Challenging members of Congress to put a halt to the “political circus,” the President stated the purpose of the ‘American Jobs Act’ simply and clearly: “to put more people back to work and more money in the pockets of those who are working.”

The proposed bill includes extending the payroll tax cut, which would continue putting more directly into the pockets of Americans; extending jobless benefits, keeping something of a social safety net in place; instituting a “returning heroes” hiring tax credit for unemployed veterans, a $4,000 tax credit to businesses hiring long-term unemployed workers, and $35 billion to keep laid-off teachers and emergency first responders on the job. In addition, some $100 billion would be spent on major school construction and infrastructure renovation.

Social & Fiscal Responsibility

Key in terms of fiscal responsibility and defending the Act from the slings and barbs of opponents, Pres. Obama proposed closing corporate tax loopholes and increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

“Everything in this bill will be paid for,” Obama stated boldly. “Everything.”

With US society increasingly polarizing into a small class of super-rich, a small, struggling middle class, growing numbers in poverty and a large base of people struggling not to fall into poverty, Pres. Obama has his priorities straight.

No one enjoys paying taxes, but they’re the price that has to be paid for Americans to have the ability to enjoy and benefit from things like an affordable education, health and medical services, a healthy environment, a sustainable natural resource base and a socioeconomic safety net, as well as reliable and sufficient electrical power, transportation, telecommunications and infrastructure.

And when a young, well-known music mogul can pay $850,000 a week to charter one of the most expensive luxury yachts in the world to take his family on vacation, well, I figure paying a percent or few more in taxes won’t really hurt him or his family, or stifle business investment or job creation.

Now it’s up to Congress, the ‘loyal’ Republican opposition in particular, to smarten up, bury what’s become the transparent tactics of sowing confusion, division and dissent and get on fulfilling their responsibility to represent the broad public’s best interests.

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