Public support grows for government jobs program

Only a day before President Barack Obama unfurls his program to create jobs, there is growing support for massive government action in response to the worst unemployment crisis since the Great Depression.

"Let's make our country what it should be," said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka yesterday.

"Let's embrace job-creating investments in our infrastructure: roads, bridges, transit and green technology. Let's ensure that workers have a voice on the job. Let's create an America that provides economic security for our nurses and teachers and bus drivers and health care for our children, parents and grandparents. Let's provide quality education for all of America's children so that we have future leaders who will recognize the amazing work of those that have come before them and give back to their communities."

The AFL-CIO is calling for government spending in excess of $4 trillion to achieve some of those goals. One lawmaker, Rep. Jan Schakowsy, D-Ill., has already introduced legislation that would have government directly creating several million jobs rebuilding infrastructure and schools and carrying out public works programs. Many in the labor movement say they support her bill.

People familiar with the White House deliberations on a jobs package say President Obama is considering, among other things, a plan totaling about $300 billion in tax cuts and spending for 2012.

The biggest parts of that plan would be a one-year extension of a payroll tax cut for workers and a continuation of unemployment benefits. Those two items would cost $170 billion.

The information comes from people in the administration who spoke anonymously with members of the press because, they said, the plan is still being finalized and some proposals could be changed before Obama introduces his program Thursday night to a joint session of Congress.

In addition to that plan, there are reports that the White House is also considering spending on some type of public works program and on tax incentives for businesses that hire the unemployed.

Recent polls show growing support by the public for government spending to create jobs.

51 percent of respondents in a new Politico-George Washington University poll said that they favor "a large scale federally subsidized nationwide construction program putting Americans back to work building bridges, roads and infrastructure." Only 21 percent opposed the idea.

Trumka warned that people should not take it for granted that politicians who claim to support workers actually do so.

Republican candidate Mitt Romney unveiled a "jobs plan" yesterday that amounts to cutting tax rates for businesses even more than they have been cut already and on eliminating even more regulations on big business.

"The right answer for America is not to grow government or believe that government can create jobs," Romney said.

Instead, he said he wants even lower taxes on corporations and upper income groups and that he would support eliminating all taxes for corporations that have shipped jobs overseas, in an attempt to lure them back to the Unites States..

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich blasted Romney's plan, particularly the part involving amnesty for corporations that hid their assets overseas.

"Middle class people and poor people are told they should accept cuts, lower wages and joblessness. The rich, we are supposed to believe, unlike what they have done thus far, will create jobs for us if we just let them get away, one more time, with what they have gotten away with for far too long."

A new United Nations study says the Romney approach is wrong, not just for America, but for the entire world.

The report's author, Heiner Flassbeck, is head of the globalization and development strategies division at the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and a former deputy finance minister in Germany.

The U.N. report calls for "wage increases, stricter regulation of financial markets, including a return to a system of managed exchange rates, and a conscious break with market-led thinking.

"If interest rates everywhere are zero, and if governments stick to the policy of not only keeping fiscal deficits where they are but retrenching and cutting public expenditure, then we will end up in permanent recession."

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