In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps was created immediately, and 500,000 workers (the equivalent of 2 million in today's larger labor force) were hired in a matter of months to clean up forests and build rural structures. Today a similar organization--a Civilian Reconstruction Corp (CRC)--could focus on repair of roads, public lands, and inner city structures owned by the government, i.e. community facilities, local health clinics, and the like. Job creation need not be exclusively by government, but could be shared with private sector employers, or even totally contracted out if immediate hiring is necessary.
For quick job creation, some of the funding might be dedicated to the establishment of local health clinics, as part of a third program -- for example, a Community Health Services Corp (CHSC). The just mentioned CRC could build these clinics -- or better yet, convert other buildings and structures in the inner cities and elsewhere. These health clinics would be staffed by doctors, nurses, technicians, and other government-sponsored employees. The availability of these new clinics would offload the growing burden on hospital emergency rooms and provide immediate healthcare for the current 50 million uninsured and the tens of millions on Medicaid, thereby also offloading some of the costs of Medicaid on States' budgets. Salaries could be paid by a combination of direct payment from the $200 billion allocated for this program and generous tax deductions for pro bono work by professionals. Part of the funding would also go towards a federally sponsored mass training program that would bring 100,000 new health-care professionals and related staff into this sector. Government-subsidized training costs would be worked off by guaranteed years of service in these new facilities: $50 billion annually would fund employee hiring and equipment for these community clinics.
Complementing the above three targeted job creation programs would be a new equivalent to the WPA jobs program of the 1930s: a 21st century Works Project Administration. Initially funded by $250 billion, it would create jobs in sectors and industries other than those created by the just mentioned Public Investment Corp, CRC, and CHSC. This program would function along lines similar to its 1930s counterpart, which created more than 8 million jobs during its 6-year tenure--which in today's workforce has the equivalency of 30 million jobs. Not initially as ambitious as its 1930s counterpart, the New WPA would not at first function on a nationwide scale, but would target job creation in states (and areas within states) that had chronically high joblessness. Like the original WPA, it would create decent-paying jobs, not minimum wage jobs -- but no jobs paying more than $50,000 a year. (In addition, employment terms would not allow more than two consecutive years of work for anyone hired.)
There are now more than nine million involuntary part-time employees in America. Their underemployment status is the equivalent of 4.5 million unemployed of the total 25 million effectively unemployed today in the U.S. Part of the jobs creation strategy should therefore be to move as many as possible of these part-time workers to full-time employment status, using a series of measures that would temporarily subsidize their pay and benefits with federal pay supplements. This would be in exchange for the employers agreeing to have these jobs converted to full-time status and pay ASAP. Wage-related legislation would require companies to:
- provide full benefits to any remaining part-time and temporary employees,
- index their hourly wages to levels found in the full-time workforce in that particular company
These provisions would apply to public employment, including that at schools, as well as to private sector employment. Another $50 billion would fund this program in its first year, enabling the conversion of two million current involuntary part-time jobs to full time jobs.
All of the $170 billion a year raised by the 12.4% payroll tax newly levied on all incomes would be earmarked for encouraging workers currently having to work past retirement to leave the workforce, thereby making their jobs available to younger workers. Workers in the 60-69-age-bracket are the fastest growing segment of the labor force today. This is largely due to inadequate retirement benefits, which force the working elderly to continue past normal retirement age in the labor force. Social security benefits should be further subsidized by the payroll tax measures noted above ($170 billion in tax revenues a year), to allow earlier retirement at two-thirds equivalent pay for those in this age group, instead of the current less-than-half benefits rate.
The remaining $50 billion of the total $1.47 trillion funding would be deployed to provide direct incentives to corporations to repatriate jobs taken offshore, bringing them back to the U.S., particularly in the manufacturing sector of the economy. The incentives should be accompanied by strict disincentives for the continued offshoring of jobs. The disincentives would include the loss of current tax credits that encourage offshoring, as well as the imposition of 25% tariffs on the products of U.S. corporations that have offshored jobs and then re-import the products (once made in the U.S. and now produced offshore) back into the U.S.
An immediate, positive spillover effect from these measures and this taxation would no doubt include an incentive for private employers to quickly start hiring domestically. Why that effect? Because they would know that any resistance to such hiring might well make them a target for competition from a government-managed or government-sponsored direct hiring project.
The direct job creation program would launch a very large, front loaded, job creation effort on multiple fronts, given the initial major tax revenue windfalls from job repatriation and other measures. It would thereafter be funded from the ongoing roughly $400 billion-a-year revenue sources already cited, as well as from direct sales revenues generated from public investment projects already cited.
* * *See original article for a table that summarizes where the money will come from and what it will be used to accomplish.
The seven aforementioned jobs-creation programs funded by these new revenue streams would create 14.7 million jobs in the first year to jump start today's stagnating economy, and fund a continuing 4-6 million jobs in each of the next four years as well.
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In summary, it is becoming increasingly clear that corporate America is now comfortable with a much higher level of unemployment than was considered normal in years past. What was "normal' in the past, around 4.5%, is now said by corporate America to be obsolete. They say the "new normal" is 8 to 9%, or about twice that in the past. But we must reject this. And if corporations flush with trillions in cash refuse to hire sufficiently to reduce unemployment to 4.5%, then the government must become the direct employer of choice, even if that means "competing' with the private sector, directly, as an employer. This choice is stark: either the government must engage in direct job creation, or we the decimated middle class now "on the ropes" must learn to live with today's 9% level of joblessness for decades to come.