Fault for unemployment lies largely with Congress

2010-11-07T00:00:00Z Fault for unemployment lies largely with Congress Arizona Daily Star
November 07, 2010 12:00 am

The following editorial appeared Friday in the Los Angeles Times:

The Federal Reserve will try again to spur the economy through a second round of "quantitative easing," which is Washington-speak for "conjuring money out of thin air." But the Fed's plan to purchase $600 billion worth of long-term Treasury bonds is just a nudge to the economy, not a shove.

The problem for the Fed is that it is failing at one of its core missions - to keep unemployment low - and it's already tried all the monetary tools at its disposal. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke has been a remarkably active leader. The fault lies with Congress, which hasn't been doing enough.

That's the loudest message from Tuesday's election. Voters weren't mad at Democrats for trying to stimulate the economy; they were mad at them for not doing it effectively.

The question is whether Congress is willing to borrow more heavily to finance new tax cuts or spending - for example, more federal aid for infrastructure projects. But given the GOP's rhetoric during the campaign, it seems unlikely that Republicans would support another stimulus.

Here's another option: Rather than extending $700 billion in Bush-era tax cuts to individuals and partnerships with the highest incomes, why not use some or all of that money to suspend payroll taxes for new hires for the next two years? That would be a growth-oriented tax cut.

Or how about temporarily slashing taxes on foreign earnings that U.S.-based multinational companies bring into this country, then using the resulting spike in revenue to finance a payroll tax holiday or other stimulus effort?

Lawmakers have spent recent months bickering over the Bush tax cuts. Economists are split on the merits of Bernanke's plan, which could weaken the dollar and promote inflation. But at least Bernanke is trying.

If only he had more help.

another voice

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