President Barack Obama’s newly published jobs plan is a collection of bullet points that understates the detail in the jobs policies he has already proposed.
The heart of the Obama plan is stated very succinctly, almost casually, but it’s a very big deal: “use half the savings from ending foreign wars to pay down the debt and the other half to invest in infrastructure at home.”
Those savings are not chump change. They are currently estimated at $848 billion.
Using savings from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan gets derided by the pundits as if Obama is credited himself for money already pocketed. But as I and others have noted previously, these are savings not yet pocketed, and may never be realized if we elect a new president is who is not committed to ending those wars.
Half of $848 billion is basically the cost of the President’s American Jobs Act proposed last year.
All the nitty-gritty details of that legislation may not be on the president’s campaign website, but they are on the White House website. Here are some of the key elements:
Modernizing Over 35,000 Schools – From Science Labs and Internet-Ready Classrooms to Renovated Facilities: The President is proposing a $25 billion investment in school infrastructure that will modernize at least 35,000 public schools – investments that will create jobs, while improving classrooms and upgrading our schools to meet 21st century needs. This includes a priority for rural schools and dedicated funding for Bureau of Indian Education funded schools. Funds could be used for a range of emergency repair and renovation projects, greening and energy efficiency upgrades, asbestos abatement and removal, and modernization efforts to build new science and computer labs and to upgrade technology in our schools. The President is also proposing a $5 billion investment in modernizing community colleges (including tribal colleges), bolstering their infrastructure in this time of need while ensuring their ability to serve future generations of students and communities.
Making an Immediate Investment in Our Roads, Rails and Airports: The President’s plan includes $50 billion in immediate investments for highways, transit, rail and aviation, helping to modernize an infrastructure that now receives a grade of “D” from the American Society of Civil Engineers and putting hundreds of thousands of construction workers back on the job. The President’s plan includes investments to improve our airports, support NextGen Air Traffic Modernization efforts, and resources for the TIGER and TIFIA programs, which target competitive dollars to innovative multi-modal infrastructure programs. It will also take special steps to enhance infrastructure-related job training opportunities for individuals from underrepresented groups and ensure that small businesses can compete for infrastructure contracts.The President will work administratively to speed infrastructure investment through a recently issued Presidential Memorandum developed with his Jobs Council directingdepartments and agencies to identify high impact, job-creating infrastructure projects that can be expedited in a transparent manner through outstanding review and permitting processes. The call for greater infrastructure investment has been joined by leaders from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka to U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue.
Establishing a National Infrastructure Bank: The President is calling for Congress to pass a National Infrastructure Bank capitalized with $10 billion, in order to leverage private and public capital and to invest in a broad range of infrastructure projects of nationaland regional significance, without earmarks or traditional political influence. The Bank would be based on the model Senators Kerry and Hutchison have championed while building on legislation by Senators Rockefeller and Lautenberg and the work of long-time infrastructure bank champions like Rosa DeLauro and the input of the President’s Jobs Council.
Project Rebuild: Putting People Back to Work Rehabilitating Homes, Businesses and Communities. The President is proposing to invest $15 billion in a national effort to put construction workers on the job rehabilitating and refurbishing hundreds of thousands of vacant and foreclosed homes and businesses. Building on proven approaches to stabilizing neighborhoods with high concentrations of foreclosures, Project Rebuild will bring in expertise and capital from the private sector, focus on commercial and residential property improvements, and expand innovative property solutions like land banks. This approach will not only create construction jobs but will help reduce blight and crime and stabilize housing prices in areas hardest hit by the housing crisis.
Expanding Access to High-Speed Wireless in a Fiscally Responsible Way: The President is calling for a deficit reducing plan to deploy high-speed wireless services to at least 98 percent of Americans, including those in more remote rural communities, while freeing up spectrum through incentive auctions, spurring innovation, and creating a nationwide, interoperable wireless network for public safety.
Independent economists had estimated the plan would create 2 million jobs over the next one to two years. And that’s new jobs above and beyond what’s already expected to be created from the continuing recovery.
Compare that to Mitt Romney’s jobs estimates, which are not backed by independent economists, crib jobs numbers from analyses of unrelated policies and only promise to create the number of jobs economists believe would be created no matter who is president.
We don’t have a choice between two jobs plan. We have a choice between a plan and no plan.