There has been talk recently–finally–about creating jobs. The talk has been about using some of the TARP money to create jobs in various sectors. As a reminder, the TARP funds were those funds used from the Treasury to shore up certain banks and other investment firms plus AIG, which was ostensibly the only insurance firm. Some of that money was transferrred right away, about $350 billion, late 2008. Another $350 billion was to be used if neede by financial institutions, if approved by Congress.
When President Obama came into office, he established the stimulus program which was to be about $800 billion in construction projects, education, aid to the states, and some mortgage stabilization. That program helped to shore up the economic condition of the state governments. The greater confidence that resulted in the bond markets helped to accelerate the financial turn around. Consequently only about $400+ billion of the TARP money has actually been loaned and there is about $200+ billion left. About $70 billion has been paid back and more is coming in every day.
The Democrats, the progressive wing in particular, believes that the government should use some of those funds, Dr. Paul Krugman suggests as much as $300 billion, to jump start the economy in a way that would put most people back to work. We will suggest here several ways and specific industries that could start the process immediately. The country could build some industries that could then take off on their own after a year. We would see a return immediately from increased income taxes. But we would also get money back in interest on loans to small businesses and from their taxes once they became profitable enough to pay taxes.
The Republicans, or more specifically, the leaders of the Republicans, Senator McConnell and House Republican leader John Boehner both say that they think that the money should be returned to the Treasury to bring down the budget deficit. It is curious that these two, want to cut the deficit. These two supported a trillion-dollar war in Iraq, an 8-year presence in Afghanistan, $1.2 trillion in tax cuts, primarily for the wealthy and, in 2006, Medicare Part D, the prescription drug plan, which was passed, in an overwhelmingly Republican House of Representatives by one vote, after holding the vote open to twist arms and threaten members for two hours to the early hours of the morning.
The Medicare prescription drug addition to Medicare, a boondoggle for the drug companies, cost the taxpayers $44 billion in 2006 alone. The ten year cost will be at least $400 billion and may go higher. Thus far, the program has been actually going down a little, and by 2008, it seems to have dropped to about $36 billion per year. That does show that the cost of prescription drugs, in general, seem to be stabilizing for this segment of society. But the net unpaid annual addition to the deficit is still about $36 billion.
So, now, up to 2008, we have three or four trillion. But then came the bailout for Wall Street at the outset of the Bush-Cheney Great Financial Collapse of 2008. That raised the 2008-2009 budget to a deficit of $1.2 trillion. In one year! So Senator McConnnell and Rep. Boehner ended the Bush era in which they voted for everything for military contractors, for ENRON and Global Crossing, for Halliburton, and for the drug companies by allowing Wall Street to run wild and cause a Great Recession and basically add another trillion dollars of debt in one week!
The Democrats could pass a bill, or not even pass a bill, but simply use remaining TARP funds and some stimulus funds (only about $236 billion, which includes about $90 billion in tax breaks) to create a variety of jobs and many of these jobs could start right now. Here are the numbers. If we used $200 billion from the stimulus, we could theoretically create 5 million jobs at $40,000 each for one year. Now, obviously not all of these jobs would start right away, but we could get a very large percentage of them in action in 120 days. Here are some of the categories and the departments of the federal government that they would be assigned to so that that funds could be allocated and payrolls initiated immediately.
Here are some easy examples of job opportunities that could be created quickly:
EPA. The Environmental Protection Agency has numerous Superfund sites around the country that need to be cleaned up. There are a thousand SuperFund sites alone. There are thousands of other sites. We could hire 100,000 men and women who could go to these sites working under the supervision of EPA and contract trainers to clean up these sites. The bill could be sent to the companies that have polluted and the justice department in collaboration with the IRS could collect the money or take them to court with authorizing legislation coming from Congress as needed.
Interior. We have a huge number of deficiencies in our national parks. Many retired and former Park Service Rangers would pitch in with recruits, young people without educations, who need a chance to work and learn a routine of work, could take on the job of restoring the parks from the neglect of the previous administration. If there are drilling, mining or timbering residues that are illegal, the justice department can take on those companies to pay for the work that must be done. This could fill 150,000 jobs.
HUD. There are literally millions of pieces of property aroudn the country that need a variety of services. These are homes that have been foreclosed and are in need of repairs, need security protection and in some cases need removal and change to the property. This is another huge project and it could fill about 250,000 jobs.
Border Patrol. The INS could used at least 50,000 people who could be assigned and trained and put on the border to do what the Minutemen are doing. In fact, probably a number of the Minutemen themselves could be used to fill these jobs. This way, we could bring our national guard forces home and let them be absorbed into the natural flow of society without a transition to yet another duty. These jobs would be to border patrol agents as nursing assistants are to nurses.
Speaking of nurses. Nurse assistants can be trained relatively quickly. There is a need for nursing assistants in long-term health facilities and hospitals. These individuals could be put into training immediately and assigned jobs by the government into public facilities which are now understaffed by any measure. We could staff at least 100,000 people this way.
Green energy and flex-fuel vehicle engineering. The retrofit jobs under EPA and the flex-fuel automotive under the Transportation Department. There are numerous start up companies around the country. They could be loaned money in $40,000 segments. The money would simply be to hire engineers, technicians and mechanics. As people are hired, under an RFP and approval system, the money would be loaned immediately. The government would use these companies as vehicles to both step-up the transition of green energy alternatives and flex-fuel transportation. It would accelerate the transition from fossil fuel to flex fuel or alternative energy. This could be done quickly and and would employ as many as 250,000 jobs over the course of a year.
Just these examples would create 900,000 jobs.
The needs are there. Current government agencies could handle the human resources aspects such as government insurance and payrolls. These would all be direct government jobs, paid by and from each department to which the jobs are assigned.
We need many more jobs than these in: education, health care, inland and port security, inner city restoration, rural area development, senior citizen and lower income citizen transportation, food distribution, co-operative farming, in-home non-medical care and day care. There are great needs in all these areas and a jobs program would put people to work in these fields.
When we have four or five million people back to work, at reasonably priced jobs, we will begin to create a substantial service industry which will create another several thousand jobs. People in the direct government jobs should be free to leave and be replaced by others who are out of work when the initial job holders move on into permanent private industry jobs.
At the same time, we must introduce strong measures into the marketplace so that corporations who make products abroad for distribution in the U.S. pay small duties on everything coming back into the country. This will give us another $25-35 billion to use to help emerging industries hire the people they need to grow into companies hiring several hundred workers.
We need some imagination and a handful of leaders, starting right at the top, to ignore the Neocon Obstructionists and simply shoot right by them and get this done. Any Senator who votes against it does not get any money in their state. Senators who do will see their states participate. It would be a win or lose deal. If a Senator does not want to help the people of his state, then let him or her suffer the consequences.