Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bill Clinton's Common Sense

     I'll admit it right up front:  after the Monica Lewinsky affair, "common sense" was not an attribute I thought I'd ever assign to Bill Clinton.  But here we are in 2011, and the Tea Partiers are clearly determined to bring about the downfall of our nation, while the Republicans are falling all over themselves carrying out Tea Party edicts.  In other words, these folks are incapable of offering constructive ideas in the face of our economic stagnation--just more of the same:  when in doubt, surrender more of the nation's wealth to those who are already sitting pretty.
     On the other hand, in a recent Newsweek article Mr. Clinton offered up numerous common sense ideas for job creation.
     To begin with, he argued that in lieu of tax credits for start up companies, Congress should once again allow these credits to be converted into cash equivalents for every employee hired.  This had been a part of President Obama's energy policy, but last December the Republicans in Congress refused to extend this benefit--in effect saying "this is a spending program, not a tax cut... we only approve tax cuts."
     The former President maintained that the way we produce and use energy today could result in the same massive job growth that information technology provided during his administration.  He estimates, for example, that retrofitting buildings all across America would create over a million new jobs.  Citing the Empire State building project--which saw hundreds of jobs created, greenhouse gas emissions cut substantuially as overall electricity usage decreased by close to 40%, Mr. Clinton then argued that since 7000 jobs are created for every billion dollars in retrofitting, the construction industry would be kept busy for years--with effects from a million new jobs rippling all through the economy.  Schools, colleges, hospitals, state, county, and local government buildings throughout the country from coast to coast are ripe for retrofitting.
     While infrastructure initiatives would result in massive job creation, there aren't the votes in Congress to pass another stimulus package.  Clinton believes we need to unlock that money and take steps to get U.S. corporations to invest some of the $2 trillion they've accumulated. (Clinton points out that TARP and the stimulus saved us from a second Great Depression.  It worked, but didn't entirely "fix" the economy since an $800 billion stimulus simply couldn't fix a $3 trillion hole.) Mr. Clinton maintains that cutting government spending with the economy currently receiving so little private investment is incredibly risky, and will further increase the deficit as tax revenues fall.
     With regard to corporate taxes, Mr. Clinton acknowledges ours are the second highest in the world.  He advocates lowering the rates while simplifying the tax code and broadening the actual tax base.  This way, all
corporations will pay a reasonable amount of tax on their profits.  In other words, lower the rates to be competitive, but eliminate the loopholes that cause widespread discrepancies.
     Clinton is certainly ready to support individual state initiatives if that's where good ideas are originating.  While noting there are 3 million posted job vacancies (and filling them faster would make a huge difference to the economy) he cites a Georgia program where after vacancies go unfilled for a certain period of time, the state offers businesses money to train potential employees.  During the training, companies aren't yet employers, so they don't have to start paying Social Security taxes, or benefits.  Potential employees are trained the way the company desires, then they hire those who successfully complete that training.  Lag time is reduced, and a job vacancy is filled.
     In addressing the issue of rules and regulations that can often delay shovel-ready projects by up to 3 years, Mr. Clinton states that the federal government should be able to issue waivers(where there are no environmental concerns) to the states to speed up the starting time for construction projects, for example.
     There you have it, a number of solid, thoughtful ideas.  Pretty refreshing, wouldn't you say?  Alas, I doubt they'll ever be given the very serious consideration they deserve while the "nattering nabobs of negativity" (thanks you Spiro Agnew) Boehner, Cantor, Ryan, McConnell, etc. carry out their plans to undermine the President by any means necessary.  I suspect they'd rather torch the country than "compromise", or worse yet, have to forego the media spotlight.

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