'Dramatic action' sounds a lot like status quo to me

Staff Writer
Woodford Times

On Sunday as I wrote this my wife said out of the blue, "In nine days history will be made as Barack Obama is sworn in."

Indeed, it will be historic.

Too bad the same can't be said of Obama's economic plan unveiled over the weekend in a 14-page summary.

"A key goal enunciated by the President-Elect concerning the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan is that it should save or create at least 3 million jobs by the end of 2010. For this reason, we have undertaken a preliminary analysis of the jobs effects of some of the prototypical recovery packages being discussed. Our analysis will surely evolve as we and other economists work further on this topic. The results will also change as the actual package parameters are determined in cooperation with the Congress. Nevertheless, this report suggests a methodology for ensuring that the package contains enough stimulus that we can have confidence that it will create sufficient jobs to meet the President-Elect’s goals," is how the report starts.

No guarantees offered. That's fine.

It was an interesting read, but hardly awe-inspiring. Obama's election night speech came to mind.

In part, he said, "This is our moment. This is our time:

* to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids;

* to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace;

* to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one;

* that while we breathe, we hope.

"And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can."

It sounded good on election night. It sounds good now.

"It's not too late to change course — but only if we take immediate and dramatic action," Obama added. "Our first job is to put people back to work and get our economy working again."

Obama wants to "change course" and take "dramatic action."

Okay, sounds good.

I jumped into the report looking for indications of both. But, after reading the report it is beginning to sound like the words "change course" and take "dramatic action" are rhetoric.

Not far into the report is this paragraph, "Tax cuts, especially temporary ones, and fiscal relief to the states are likely to create fewer jobs than direct increases in government purchases. However, because there is a limit on how much government investment can be carried out efficiently in a short time frame, and because tax cuts and state relief can be implemented quickly, they are crucial elements of any package aimed at easing economic distress quickly."

I'm afraid this does not bring to mind the words "dramatic action" or "change course."

This may well be the fastest approach to an economic recovery, but it is hardly a departure from the current course. 

Then I read, "Certain industries, such as construction and manufacturing, are likely to experience particularly strong job growth under a recovery package that includes an emphasis on infrastructure, energy, and school repair. But, the more general stimulative measures, such as a middle class tax cut and fiscal relief to the states, as well as the feedback effects

of greater employment in key industries, mean that jobs are likely to be created in all sectors of the economy."

Hmm, the building trades will benefit. The trades are overwhelmingly supportive of Democrats.

This signals "dramatic change." I must be missing it. 

A bit further into the report is this paragraph, showing I am not just being cynical.

"The recovery plan is likely to create jobs paying a range of wages. Significant shares of jobs are created in sectors that pay above average, such as construction and business services, as well as sectors that pay below average, such as retail trade and leisure/hospitality (hotels, restaurants). Union representation is higher than average in some of the sectors in which the recovery package creates significant numbers of jobs. Union coverage in construction and manufacturing, which account for almost one-third of the jobs created by the package, are 14 percent and 11 percent, respectively, compared to 7.5% coverage for the private sector overall."

Could this be quid quo pro? Sounds like it. And, how does that signal a "dramatic" change from the current way the game is played?