President Obama should address the nation from the Oval Office, calling for a bipartisan deal to create more jobs in 2011 and lower the deficit beginning in 2012. He should do this now. Leaders lead. Strong presidents use the bully pulpit to define the debate and rally the nation to action and confidence.
The president should champion a “Made in the USA” jobs plan that would restore the housing tax credit and create an expanded jobs credit for American companies hiring American workers this year. He should back the proposal of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) with Republican support including that of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas) to create an infrastructure rebuilding bank and support proposals by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) to reward American firms that repatriate jobs to America.
As part of a longer-term deficit deal, the president should propose a one-time 2011 cash bonus payment to police, firefighters and military families of those who served since 2001. This should be enacted before the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, to thank the bravest among us and create demand to help the economy grow.
Last Thursday I wrote a column titled “Jobs: An Angry Dissent.” I have seen little since then that suggests progress for proposals to create jobs. There are two secret “gangs” meeting about the budget. I know of nothing being discussed in these secret chambers that would be a serious jobs initiative.
Last Friday, new devastating jobless numbers were announced, yet everyone continues to act in character. I expect next month’s jobs numbers to be equally ugly. The public relations about jobs grows louder. The programs to create jobs or limit foreclosures remain puny.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) continues his war against jobs by destroying the ability of the Senate to act, with his historic abuse of the filibuster to pursue his No. 1 goal, which is not to create jobs but to politically destroy the president.
The president spent last Friday and Saturday praising himself for a job well done. His economic adviser told the nation to disregard the jobless report. The Washington Post reports his powerful Treasury secretary has advised against doing more to help the jobless. The National Journal reports President Obama and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke believe the right way to help the jobless is to stay the course, and do nothing substantial today.
Many Republicans now suggest the way to help the jobless is to fire 10 percent of the federal workforce. They claim they help the jobless by firing police and closing police stations while our police protect citizens from rapists and murderers. They claim they help the jobless by firing firefighters and closing firehouses while firefighters rush into burning buildings to save children from raging flames and neighbors from terror attacks. They claim they help the jobless by firing teachers, closing schools and cutting aid to education.
While these travesties continue, voters’ rage rises. Joblessness plagues the land. The president still refuses to champion policies worthy of the great change president I worked so hard to elect. McConnell continues to abuse Senate rules to pursue his war against jobs programs. House Republicans threaten to trigger a global crash by voting down the debt-ceiling increase unless Washington surrenders to their drive to destroy more jobs.
I came to Washington inspired by Robert Kennedy. I am in the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. I learned my politics by working for Democratic leaders including Tip O’Neill and Lloyd Bentsen, who both reached major bipartisan deals with President Reagan and conservative Republicans. It can be done.
I will not sell the jobless out, sell the jobless short or sell the jobless down the river. I am appalled, sickened, angry, disgusted and outraged by the shameful neglect of jobless Americans that corrupts this capital and poisons our economy while small minds say we have no options, and cold hearts ignore what is happening to our people.
For Democrats and Republicans running in 2012, I warn you: The great reckoning is coming.
Brent Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at <i>[email protected]</i>.