20110519 obama middleeast 54
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a speech on Mid East and North Africa policy in the Ben Franklin Room at the State Department May 19, 2011 in Washington D.C. - 


JEREMY HOBSON: Now let's get to jobs. President Obama heads to North Carolina today to visit a high-tech lighting company that has actually been creating jobs in the down economy. That's a trick the president would like to pull off on a national scale. And as he hits the road today, he's getting two different roadmaps for job creation.

Marketplace's Jeff Horwich starts us off with the details.

JEFF HORWICH: First you got the safe low hanging fruit, approach. That'd be the recommendations the "President's Jobs and Competitiveness Council." The group of CEOs, labor leaders and academics recommends a slate of quick, cheap tweaks that don't require any help from Congress: faster permits for construction projects, more help with small business loans, a simplified visa process to allow more tourists to come here and spend money.

Harvard economist Ken Rogoff says it's sensible stuff.

KEN ROGOFF: We're talking about things like reducing red tape, making homes more energy efficient -- these aren't big macroeconomic policies.

Then you've got ex-economic advisor Larry Summers with the go-big-or-go-home approach. Summers wants to extend the payroll tax cut for another year and pour more money into infrastructure projects. MIT economist David Autor says its less about the specific spending and more about just spending.

DAVID AUTOR: The hope would have to be that its this general macroeconomic stimulus, spend a bunch of money, gets the pump flowing, etcetera.

The final tab for the Summers proposal: $300 billion.

I'm Jeff Horwich for Marketplace.


JEREMY HOBSON: President Obama heads to Durham, N.C. today. He'll visit a lighting company that has actually been creating jobs in the down economy. That's a trick the President would like to replicate on national scale. And there are a couple approaches being floated this morning to do just that.

Marketplace's Jeff Horwich joins us live with the details. Good morning.

JEFF HORWICH: Good morning Jeremy.

HOBSON: Well first, Jeff -- let's focus on the ideas from his jobs council -- which is headed up by the CEO of General Electric.

HORWICH: Their first batch of recommendations you could best describe as "quick and cheap" -- stuff the administration can do without Congress and, notably, without much heavy lifting from the private sector. Here's the president over the weekend.

BARACK OBAMA: These are steps we know will make a difference in people's lives -- not just twenty years from now, or ten years from now, but now.

Stuff like streamline permits for construction projects, more help with small business loans, issue more tourist visas so people can visit and boost our economy.

HOBSON: Okay so those ideas are coming from the jobs council -- and it looks like one of the president's former advisers is piping up as well with an idea.

HORWICH: Right. The specific pitch today is from former economic adviser Larry Summers. He wants another $300 billions in payroll tax cuts and infrastructure spending. Basically more stimulus.

Economist Ken Rogoff is Summers' colleague at Harvard -- but he's not with him on the stimulus.

KEN ROGOFF: I think there's definitely room for spending on infrastructure. But I don't think stimulus is going to solve what is fundamentally a problem of too much debt.

Rogoff says jobs-wise, he wouldn't expect much bang-for-the-buck from either the cheap tweaks or the big-spending approach. He says the economy's undergoing a painful correction, and there are just no shortcuts.

HOBSON: Marketplace's Jeff Horwich, thanks.

HORWICH: You're welcome.

Follow Jeff Horwich at @jeffhorwich