The Huffington Post’s senior Washington correspondent Dan Froomkin today solves a mystery. Last year he launched a series, “America Needs Jobs,” and promised 20 ideas that should be on the policy table for discussion. The ideas made for compelling reading, even though some progressives might take issue with a few of the approaches.
But after idea No. 14, the series suddenly disappeared. Today, in a column, he explains what inspired the series in early September and why it suddenly stopped:
Just that week, President Barack Obama had provided this excuse for his do-almost-nothing approach to the crisis: “We are willing to look at any idea that’s out there that we think will help,” he said at a CNBC town hall on the economy. “But we’ve got to do so in a responsible way. We’ve got to make sure that whatever it is that we’re proposing gives us the best bang for the buck. A lot of ideas that look good on paper, when you start digging into them it turns out that they’re more complicated and they may end up not working the way they’re supposed to.”
I could think of at least 10 ideas that would help off the top of my head, and I knew it wouldn’t be hard to find 10 more. I decided to call attention to serious, substantive measures available to Washington policymakers — if they were really interested.
The series kickoff was headlined: 20 Ways To Put America Back To Work Again.
But I only made it to 14.
The final installment ran on Nov. 5. It’s not that I’d run out of ideas. It’s just that there was no more denying the fact that the nation’s midterm voters, outraged as they were about the lack of jobs, had actually put in control of the House the one group of people even less willing to do anything about it than the ones that were there before.
Froomkin laments the fact that of the 14 proposals that he did highlight, only one has partially seen the light of day: a Social Security payroll tax cut—and that idea has been criticized on this blog and elsewhere because it’s wrong to deprive the Social Security trust fund of revenue when conservatives are asserting, however incorrectly, that benefits have to be cut because the trust fund is “broke.”
Left on the floor, as Froomkin writes in his column, were proposals “that involved precisely the kind of bold, forward-looking, major investments in the future that had been a longshot before the midterms, and now seemed a cold hard impossibility. Think: infrastructure spending, bailing out the states, a new Civilian Conservation Corps and WPA, lowering the retirement age, and a green energy and energy conservation push.”
Froomkin adds that while he has found it “hard to be optimistic,” he adds, “there is at least some cause for hope. A mighty collection of brainpower and passion and populist energy is assembling in Washington on Thursday for a Summit on Jobs and America’s Future, organized by Robert Borosage and Roger Hickey and their Campaign for America’s Future.”
He concludes that if the summit succeeds, the jobs issue could change Washington politics.
“It seems to me that jobs, along with the war in Afghanistan, are the two issues where public sentiment is so overwhelming — and so out of sync with what’s going on inside official Washington — that if it were somehow unbound, unfurled, let loose to fully express itself, well, the world really could move.”