Marketplace Scratch Pad

More stimulus?

Scott Jagow Apr 3, 2009

With the job numbers out today, there’s talk in the blogosphere about the need for much more job-creating stimulus. Our own commentator, Robert Reich, blogs that we’re in a Depression with a capital D, and the way out of it is government spending on a large scale.

His suggestions:

Energy independence and a non-carbon economy should be the equivalent of a war mobilization. Hire Americans to weatherize and insulate homes across the land. Don’t encourage General Motors or any other auto company to shrink. Use the auto makers’ spare capacity to make busses, new wind turbines, and electric cars (why let the Chinese best us on this?). Enlarge public transit systems.

Meanwhile, extend our educational infrastructure. So many young people are out of work that they should be using this time to improve their skills and capacities. Expand community colleges. Enlarge Pell Grants. Extend job-training opportunities to the unemployed, so they can learn new skills while they’re collecting unemployment benefits.

Finally, accelerate universal health care.

A column in The Nation, also calls for a war-like effort to stimulate employment:

Only then will we have refired the commercial engines needed to recover from this dismal recession. And only then will we have addressed Americans’ belief that unemployment is by far, with no close second, the most important economic issue facing the country.

An old friend emailed this morning to tell me her county in North Carolina has 16% unemployment, up from 7% a year ago. Reich points out that if you include people working part-time who’d rather be working full-time, the national unemployment rate is 15.6 percent.

I wish we hadn’t wasted – yes, wasted – so much money on the financial institutions and the thinking that we just have to open the credit markets to get the economy back on track. It’d be much easier to go along with a bigger stimulus plan now. There is a stimulus plan in place, $787 billion worth. Reich and others say that’s not nearly enough, but how do we know yet?

I’ll leave this one open to you. Do you want your government to roll out another huge stimulus effort?

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