The mainstream media meme is that the 2012 election will be a referendum on creating jobs. Maybe so, but “creating jobs” is a loaded phrase. (More)

Creating Jobs, Part I – The GOP View

This week Morning Feature looks at the phrase “creating jobs.” Today we’ll examine the Republican view, as expressed by the House GOP caucus. Tomorrow we’ll look at the Democratic view. Saturday we’ll explore how to talk about jobs with Fred, our archetypal median voter.


Thank you, Mr. Ryzewski. He was my 8th grade teacher, and one of his playful moments became a staple of my vocabulary. Back then, at least where I grew up, we didn’t have different teachers for each subject. We left home room for algebra, physical education, and lunch. Mr. Ryzewski had us for the rest of the day. Each morning he wrote the day’s schedule on the board, and some days I guess that was too boring to bear. So he grew playful. For example, the entry for period seven might be COPS. That didn’t mean a social studies lecture on law enforcement. It meant Continuation Of Period Six, or another 45 minutes of the same subject.

His favorite scheduling acronym was MOTS, which meant More Of The Same. He used that more often, because he liked to explore topics in depth. My classmates and I began using it whenever the present or future looked pretty much the same as the recent past. My friends and family members began using it. Now it’s even listed in an acronym dictionary. I can’t swear that started with Mr. Ryzewski, but it may have.

And MOTS is a good summary for the House Republican Plan for America’s Job Creators. They tout themselves as “the party of ideas,” but their economic ideas for 2011 look a whole lot like their ideas for 1980 and pretty much every year since.

The details … or not.

First on their list is “burdensome regulation.” They quote a 2010 Small Business Administration report that regulations “cost our economy over $1.75 trillion a year.” They offer no details on that, and as it happens they completely ignore this passage at the start of the report:

Regulations are needed to provide the rules and structure for societies to properly function. This research, while mindful of this fact, does not consider the benefits of federal regulations, but looks at the overall costs imposed by them.

As a whole, the SBA report focuses on the disproportionate per-employee impact of regulation on small businesses, who lack the economies of scale and the political clout to gain exemptions often given to big business. House Republicans cite three examples of “burdensome regulations” – limits on greenhouse gas emissions, pesticides, and net neutrality – that they say “hurt job creators.”

Next is a GOP favorite: tax cuts. They propose capping taxes at 25% “for businesses and individuals including small business owners,” and eliminating or sharply cutting taxes on foreign profits. Along with patent and FDA product approval reforms, House Republicans also urge free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. And they tout their American Energy Initiative which, not surprisingly, pushes for more coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear energy production.

Cut to Grow?

In short, the GOP plan for creating jobs focuses exclusively on benefits for business owners, whom they call “job creators.” This while House Republicans cut funding for high-speed rail and other infrastructure projects, jobs programs, and education. Republicans in states like Wisconsin and Florida have followed the same agenda. The GOP calls it “cut to grow.”

Meanwhile, the Cato Institute has long advocated repealing the minimum wage, an idea economics professor Art Carden advocated in Forbes in 2009, gained traction among GOP candidates in 2010, and was proposed by Nevada Republicans this year. The argument is that businesses could hire more workers if they pay each worker less. A lot less. According to economic writers Martin Hutchinson, Edward Hadas, and Antony Currie, the problem with the U.S. economy is simple: American workers are overpaid, by 20%. In the same article, they excuse the “excessive optimism” of Wall Street executives whose gambling problem crashed the economy.

Of course, neither Republicans nor other pro-business voices explain how Fred – our archetypal median American – will support his family after his 20% pay cut. The Heritage Foundation says we don’t have real poverty in America anyway, and the Cato Institute says a family of four can live on $30,000 per year.

The Republican jobs plan is MOTS: More Of the Same policies that held real median incomes stagnant for the past 30 years. That’s because Republicans don’t see jobs as how we support our families. They see jobs as how we support business owners. In their view, government must ignore workers and pamper “job creators.”

As we’ll see tomorrow, Democrats see jobs very differently.


Happy Thursday!