02/25/10 — Jobs? Let's hope: Bill is a start, but the problem really goes much deeper

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Jobs? Let's hope: Bill is a start, but the problem really goes much deeper

OK, before we start talking about the jobs bill that passed the Senate this week, let's establish a few truths.

First, we have to stop throwing money at problems just to say we are doing something. It did not work with the Cash for Clunkers, and it did not work with the stimulus package that has been proven to have had a negligible impact on employment numbers.

Second, someone needs to calm down all those in Washington who are so worried about their approval ratings that they are willing to support anything that results in even a lukewarm headline.

And last but not least, doing something is not always preferable to doing nothing -- not when the results are unclear and the challenges associated with the proposed solution are difficult at best.

The jobs bill that passed in the Senate this week is a first step toward finding a way to get American businesses hiring again. It offers an incentive to motivate businesses to hire the unemployed -- and gives them a bonus if they keep the new employee on at least a year.

And that in itself is a start. Someone somewhere needs to get that if you want a business to hire new employees, the owner of said business has to feel that his or her ability to pay the bills will not be adversely affected.

Think of it like a family budget -- if you are not sure if you are going to face a furlough or a pay cut, you are not going to rush out to buy a sofa, even if your 401(k) is not quite in the tank anymore and you have a job you think will be around a while.

You are going to wait and see how the budget looks for a couple of months.

That's what businesses need to see, too. If the bottom line is black now, a couple of months of being in the black is only going to make a business feel more confident about venturing out into expansion mode.

To get hiring going again, Washington has to get business moving again and consumers confident again -- and that means jobs.

So while the jobs bill is not perfect and comes with another round of that ridiculous highway funding that most people are convinced has had very little effect, if any, on job growth, it is in fact, a start.

There are still a lot of people in Washington who do not seem to understand how business and investment work. They are grabbing at straws to do something, anything to turn the job market around.

So while the jobs bill is "something," it is not enough, not really.

Washington needs laser-like concentration on the most pressing need at hand -- jobs. Get bipartisan experts and develop a plan, a real plan, not a scattershot hit to say something is being done.

The jobs bill suggests that someone gets that Americans want to see action on this issue.

Now, all we have to do is get the leadership to develop a response that is swift, sure and sweeping.

That's how you get things done.

Published in Editorials on February 25, 2010 11:02 AM