Posted by: SWL | October 21, 2012

Second Presidential Debate Topics, part 1: Jobs

There was one set of questions and responses in the second presidential debate that really summed up the choice we have in this election. Early in the evening a question was asked by a male college student about jobs. Then moderator Candy Crowley asked Mitt Romney a follow-up question: What would you do to help the long-term unemployed who need a job right now?

Mitt Romney outlined some possibilities. He also commented on the administration’s restructuring of General Motors. President Obama never gave an answer to Crowley’s question; instead he argued with Romney’s characterization of how the GM situation was handled.

But the President would have lost that point anyway. He has had almost four years to find solutions, but the unemployment rate got worse for a long time before slowly returning to the point where it was when he took office. The President’s jobs plan was unpopular or flawed enough that Congress would not pass it. Mr. Obama appointed a Jobs Council, but he has met with them only once this year. There was the Stimulus in 2009, which is occasionally touted as a job creator on the campaign trail. But at the time, the Stimulus was hailed as a way to use shovel-ready projects to stimulate the economy; any job creation was secondary. Pretty much by definition, for a project to be shovel-ready, the work needs to be done by an existing contractor/business. The jobs will go to those already employed by the company. Maybe that prevents some layoffs or a few new workers are hired temporarily. But very few new permanent jobs are created. Government cannot create private sector jobs!

That is why I am skeptical when Romney promises to create 12 million jobs over four years. But it is totally unbelievable when President Obama promises to create 100 million new manufacturing jobs. Government cannot create private sector jobs. (And the US has been moving from a manufacturing economy to a service based economy for a couple of decades.)

At least Romney has outlined policy and tax changes that would encourage the private sector to create those 12 million jobs. The President has said he will double-down on many actions he has already taken and he will fix everything if only we will give him more time. His answer to the initial question from the college student was that the government should provide more college loans and create special community college programs to provide job training. More government programs and more taxpayer money given away will not create jobs. We do not need more highly trained unemployed people, we need jobs where they can use their skills! We must have a president and Congress that understand this concept.

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