I don't care what the naysayers say, Obama gave a great speech. There were many great lines, and many great proposals, but the one I think really crystallizes the situation was when he pointed out that Americans that are out of work don't have the luxury of waiting 14 months for an election.
Just between you and me, though for political reasons Obama won't call it this, this is more stimulus. A very pleasant surprise is that it is actually more than the $300 billion dollars initially reported in the days coming up to the speech. The actual amount in Obama's American Jobs Act is $447 billion(recall that the original stimulus of 2009 was $787 billion so this comes in at 57% of that; not bad for a non stimulus). And as he left out of yesterday's proposals his planned help to homeowners-potential refinancing at the current 4% rates for millions of Americans-the cost is actually higher.
Also kudos are in order for Harry Reid, who as my friend and co-host TurboKitty who resides in Nevada always tells me-Harry Reid is one of the true unsung heros in American poiticis today though you would never guess it from some of the press he gets. He deftly scheduled a vote forcing the hand of Republican senators, making them attend the President's speech. Foiled again, Mitch McConnell!
According to Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody's, the plan would add 2 percentage points to real GDP and 1.9 million payroll jobs, while reducing unemployment by a percentage point. Zandi is actually an economist I have spoken about in previous posts.
He made some interesting points about both the Bush tax cuts and the future of the economy. In his view, the economy actually at the time of the writing(August), thought-believe it or not-"The fundamentals of the U.S. economy are better than they have been in 15 to 20 years.”
However he, and the writer of the piece, Roger Lowenstein, believed the Bush tax cuts were a major impediment to the future growth of the economy, that they had made the government "anorexic."
Point is Zandi is an economist of interest worth reading more about. Let us now look at a few highlights of the American Jobs Act.
There is a payroll tax extension/increase for workers in 2012, where this years 2% reduction increase to 3.1% In addition This cut would also be extended to employers, dropping their rate from 6.2% also down to 3.1. It would actually be eliminated for new hires and there would be 100% expensing for new investments.
Another highlight is infrastructure investments, including modernizing schools and rehabbing vacant homes, and funding for states to rehire teachers and first responders.
Finally extending unemployment insurance and new programs for the jobless. A particularly interesting proposal-which the Republicans applauded so let's see them put their money where their mouth is-was an initiative modeled on states like Georgia and North Carolina, which would allow people who have been unemployed for at least 6 months to continue to receive unemployment benefits for up to 8 weeks after returning to work. As someone who is currently on unemployment.
As someone who is currently on unemployment-though it took them ages to finally release my benefits, for the down and dirty of this see my rant http://diaryofarepublicanhater.blogspot.com/2011/07/why-nys-unemployment-office-is-lowest.html
At this point it looks hopeful that I should have work-hopefully long-term-by the start of October: I am taking the New York State Teacher's Assistant Exam on September 24 (NYSTCE), and it's an easy exam I already took the sample-in addition, I'm also gonna get my security guard license next week as my friend is a security guard and a friend/former boss of his is hiring. For those of you who continue to be out of work, I can suggest both of those options for you: the barrier to entry in either a teacher assistant(I'm in NY but am presuming the barriers to entry are likely as low, if not lower than here in NY) or becoming a security guard as this again just requires a license(easy to obtain, just a couple days of classes and you're good). The only down side is both of them require a little money. The NYSTCE set me back $65 while the total cost for the security guard license is closer to $300: the famous "you have to spend money to make money" conundrum.
This is why it hurt me so much that it took Unemployment so long to get me my money, before then I couldn't even afford these fees.
While we're talking about fields with low barriers for entry, sales was until now the thing I was able to do some over the last year, but those jobs are inconsistent, some are legitimate where-if you consistently sell, big if-you can do pretty well, others are true boiler rooms or out an out Ponzi schemes. I could write a book just on that experience doing sales jobs! Many find even the idea of cold calling people at home terrifying and I never thought of myself doing that before, but once tyring it I did sort of find it interesting. There is a great feeling to actually getting a sale; my last job at Who's Who the woman let me go after 2 weeks back in May... While I was able to get some sales over the first two weeks-I actually got 3 including selling my very first caller-she felt my style was "wrong for this" that I sounded too much like a talk show host! Funny as just 3 months later I got my own show!
So we'll see if it would be something that would apply to me; maybe not as that job I mentioned was in May so I have technically worked in the last 6 months, though only for 2 weeks, That's what is so unfair about some of the guidelines by making them so categorical.
But my one case aside, this sounds like a pretty good idea to allow people to work for up to 8 weeks-so close to 2 months and still collect benefits, it makes sense and the abruptness with which they until now drop people off so quick who gets even a couple of hours of employment is one (among many) complaints about the system.
Some of the other proposals are somewhat debatable. It is arguable how much tax credits for hiring help if they are just windfalls for companies who already were going to hire. Another very interesting idea Obama has floated around is job training (funded by the government, provided at private businesses).
On the other hand one of the best proposals is funding for states to rehire teachers and first responders, though predictably, this is something the GOP is not so excited about.
Overall, though, the GOP clearly is trying not to be so partisan during this if you notice. Last night, they offered no formal televised response to the speech. They know very well that say what you want about Obama's approval rating, theirs is lower. With the country hurting they know they can't seem too partisan and obstructionist.
For this reason expect some of the President's proposals to pass, and remember he also has the upcoming mortgage refinancing which should help millions of Americans.
Bottom line is this: as the President said last night we-unlike the GOP Congress-don't have the luxury of waiting 14 months till the next election and then fixing the economy. they need to get this signed and delivered yesterday.