Obama’s Job Plan:“A” for Effort

First of all, I’d like to say that I respect President Obama. I really do. I laud him solely for even wanting the onuses of the presidency that were so graciously gifted to him by his predecessor. I also praise him for trying to bring us out of this economic debacle (if it’s even possible anymore).

However, when it comes to his new job plan, I do not really believe we have the resources to see it all through. Rather, I think we need to pick and choose what would be most apt for our nation at this time while also keeping the future in mind. I appreciate that his approval ratings are at an all-time low. And being that the next election is right around the corner, he’s looking for any way he can for the American people to once again see him as the savior of their great nation and the only one who can bring it back to its former glory as an economic leader on the world stage.

Unfortunately, it seems that President Obama is failing to see the possibly deleterious future repercussions of much of his new economic package.

Obama’s “American Jobs Act” calls for huge tax cuts and loads of more government spending accruing to a whopping $447 billion economic package.  Firstly, the package claims to raise unemployment benefits to help support workers while they are looking for new jobs. However, assuming that the typical reason people look for jobs is to make money, if the government increases the amount of money unemployed individuals are receiving, much of the incentive to find a job is diminished. Think about it: which option would you prefer? Living off of modest benefits from the government and not having to put up with the daily one-hour commute, the nagging boss and the swells of heart-aching deadlines hitting you at the few moments of free time you have? Or making a more affluent salary and having to put up with such nuisances?

Now, that’s not meant to undermine the arduous lives of the unemployed but merely to accentuate the nature of how our unemployment works and thus how such a measure as extending unemployment benefits would do little to boost job growth.

Next, Obama hopes that by cutting taxes on smaller businesses, they’ll be more willing to hire more employees and thus the 9 percent unemployment rate plaguing the country will start to dwindle. But knowing that businesses have no incentive to start hiring employees if they don’t have enough of a demand for their products, Obama included a 50 percent cut in payroll taxes to encourage consumer spending. This most definitely sounds like a fool-proof plan, if the government did indeed have $447 billion to spare. It seems that Mr. Obama has long forgotten the frantic chaos that ensued out of fear of the U.S. facing possible default before the early Aug. deadline for raising the debt ceiling. How then can we expect to add such a large sum to the nation’s already sky-high debt? Unless we want to continue to raise the debt ceiling and not deal with it until the nation’s credit rating becomes so flawed that we lose the trust and credibility of our investors, serious tax increases need to occur and some kinds of public government expenditures need to take a hiatus.

So does this mean that there’s no way to reconcile unemployment rates or, on a larger scale, the economy as a whole without somehow piling high onto the deficit? Not necessarily. It just means that lawmakers need to be more frugal in how they spend every dollar. As I attempted to portray earlier, much of Obama’s economic package relies upon many aspects working together or in a sequential fashion in order to produce a tangible result, i.e. unemployment benefits must apparently be expanded to allow unemployed Americans to find employment, small businesses need tax cuts so that they’ll be willing to hire, and Americans need payroll taxes so that they’ll spend more and give businesses the demand to hire. Sounds like a convoluted plan right? It also sounds like an expensive plan because it requires so much action in order to ensure success.

However, Obama’s economic package also aims at funding more public work projects to boost the economy while also improving the infrastructures of our nation. If you were thinking that this sounds a lot like FDR’s New Deal during the Great Depression, then you’d be correct. But what’s to say that if such a proposal (along with World War II) pulled us out of the Great Depression, it won’t work again? The most attractive thing about this part of the president’s economic package is that it would most likely cost a lot less than the combined efforts of tax cuts and upping unemployment benefits. Thus, it won’t stack terribly high onto our debt. If it works as intended, thousands of out-of-work Americans will be recruited to fix and rebuild decaying roads, bridges and schools. That could mean good things for college campuses that need some long overdue renovations.

The bottom line is that the path to more jobs will be a gradual process that needs long-term thinking to avoid adding on ineffective expenses to our nation’s debt and thus hurting our economy’s worth in the long run.

Faisal Chaabani is a third-year biological sciences major. He can be reached at fchaaban@uci.edu.