Almost five years after the financial crisis, the American economy is still sputtering along and President Obama has not done enough to bring unemployment down to pre-crisis levels. While the President is now pushing a scheme to raise revenues from corporations and use that for more "infrastructure investment," there are better ways to allow Americans to get back to work.
Michael Strain at the American Enterprise Institute has been hounding President Obama and the Democrats precisely for their failure to focus on jobs. Today, he's got "14 Ways to Help the Unemployed Get Back To Work." I'll excerpt a few here, but the full list is required reading.
2. Lower the minimum wage for the long-term unemployed and for inexperienced workers, and couple it with an EITC-like payment.
7. Increase high-skill immigration.
9. Delay Obamacare’s employment-reducing provisions at least until the labor market has significantly improved.
10. Reduce the licensing and administrative barriers facing would-be entrepreneurs.
11. Encourage domestic energy production.
Related to that last point, Professor Mark Perry of the University of Michigan - another scholar at AEI - projects that a good long-term project for lowering unemployment would be to allow domestic energy production to ramp up, and could create 1.4 new American jobs:
Here’s a case-in-point: According to a Wood Mackenzie study, an estimated 1.4 million American jobs could be created by 2030 if the government adopted policies encouraging U.S. energy exploration and production. Constructing the Keystone KL pipeline could create an estimated 20,000 union jobs almost immediately — if only the Obama administration would stop blocking this much-needed, shovel-ready stimulus project. Hundreds of thousands of additional jobs could be created in states, including Michigan, with energy formations holding enormous quantities of oil and natural gas.
Energy-rich shale deposits, such as the Marcellus and Utica shales, can be developed safely with hydraulic fracturing. This tried-and-true technology has been coaxing oil and natural gas from deep hard-rock formations for more than 60 years and is credited not only with sharply increasing U.S. oil and natural gas production but also altering global geopolitics.
As energy expert Daniel Yergin noted, a new world energy map is emerging — and it is centered not on the Middle East but on the Western Hemisphere. In fact, the abundance of shale gas in the United States has lowered natural gas prices below $2.50 per thousand cubic feet and prompted a debate on whether American companies should begin exporting the fuel. And record-low natural gas prices have lowered energy costs for thousands of energy-intensive American manufacturers making steel, plastics, chemicals and fertilizer.
Republicans in Congress - on vacation right now - would do well to study up on some of these jobs proposals and get right to work on them when they come back from recess.