The Talk: A Feast of Presidential Jobs Plans

The Talk: A Feast of Presidential Jobs Plans
September 9, 2011

Chip Lebovitz: This week America was treated to a jobs plan trio. GOP president candidates Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney began the week by tossing their plans in the ring, only to be followed up by the actual president outlining his plan in front of a joint session of Congress last night. Which of the three plans did you find to be the most convincing?

Ross Freiman-Mendel: Obviously of the three, Huntsman and Romney have more conservative bents, thus I value their plans over Obama’s. Considering the specifics, Huntsman demonstrates the greatest understanding of what needs to be done. Romney’s plan is too timid and, considering his weak performance in Massachusetts, I put little faith in vague promises of spending cuts.

Chip Lebovitz: You’ve missed the main thrust of these plans, and it’s important to put these plans in context – they are campaign plans. They aren’t suppose to focus on the granular in order to avoid staking out damaging positions that might hurt them in the general election. Do you think that wanting to end the Alternative Minimum Tax, one of the most popular tax breaks, is going to go over well for Huntsman in a general election? Furthermore, you also missed the point of Romney’s plan; it’s more a veritable stew of tax cuts and more oil drilling than spending cuts, only guaranteeing $20 billion a year: no vague promises there.

Ross Freiman-Mendel: Of the two plans, Romney’s is more vague and affords him more wiggle room. On tax reform, for example, he says that he’s in favor of it “in the long run” and outlines only nominally how those reforms would manifest. That’s instructive. In contrast, Huntsman provides Krauthammer-esque specifics (a plus for me)! Regardless of what Romney promises — and citing one specific doesn’t obscure the fact that the plan is generally vague — his record in Massachusetts pales in comparison to Huntsman’s; if he can’t perform the task as Governor, why should I believe he’ll do it as the president?

Chip Lebovitz: It’s amusing that all of a sudden you’re on the Huntsman bandwagon given his more moderate nature and your aversion to all things government. You’re dancing around the main point as usual, that it’s terrible politics to provide so many specifics so early — a potential sign of how desperate Huntsman is. Let’s however, move to the only speech that’ll matter for at least the next fourteen months. The president’s speech was, concisely put, a strong outing that showed clever politicking and a necessary urgency about putting Americans back to work.

Ross Freiman-Mendel: Huntsman has no chance, and I concede that (nor do I want him to be president), but if I wanted a plan that outlines little specifics and is politically viable, then I would have drunk the “hope” and “change” kool-aid of the 2008 election and that of last night’s speech a long time ago. Obama’s speech was an amusing attempt at continuing the failed Keynesian stimulus policies of his administration, by providing some tax cuts to get Republicans to buy in (they won’t). Boehner’s expression or the amount of Republicans standing during the course of Obama’s speech should suggest to you how much will actually get accomplished in the next fourteen months.

Chip Lebovitz: Amusingly enough, these conversations often turn into some perverse game of Marco Polo. I say, Obama jobs plan, and you say, I hate it; I say spending, you say, I hate it. I say Obama wants to spend some money to help prevent cancer and you’d say, I hate it – it’s gotten to the point where it doesn’t even matter what the president’s suggesting. So now you dislike having quality school buildings, and like crumbling infrastructure that actually costs us money each year not to fix. These blanket rejections highlight a growing theme among Republicans: ignore the sickening number of unemployed, and if a plan might boost the economy at the moment then we oppose it, because it might help the president win reelection.

Ross Freiman-Mendel: Let’s be specific on why Republicans should oppose these initiatives. The bill is not paid for because the president chose the beloved “cut now spend later scheme;” putting people back to work cannot “decongest” the skies; rebuilding infrastructure costs money which we don’t have; the Chinese high speed rail project, as foil for the one the President wants, is over budget and rarely used; more teachers would go back to work if we limited collective bargaining, cut union pay, and reduced benefits; the jobs council is useless, and the president should move to scrap Davis-Bacon; and last but certainly not least, why should we expect expertise in allocation of funds from those who recently gave $535 million to a solar energy company that is now bankrupt? So I’m not a political hack; I just won’t settle for compromise if our president doesn’t know what to do.

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