Obama comes on strong in address to congress on jobs…

Just began watching the president’s speech:

A forceful speech so far. President Obama calls for passage of his (to be introduced) American Jobs Act and repeats several times “You should pass it right away!”

He asks why we should sit back and let China surpass us in infrastructure, especially transportation, to include high speed rail, and says we can make what we need right here.

Calls for tax relief for the middle class and chides Republicans for making pledges to raise no one’s tax ever and asks they not do it to the middle class.

I’m making these comments live in the early part of his speech. So far he is coming on strong and I think maybe some of the Republicans in the audience are stunned. Don’t know. But John Boehner and Mitch McConnell have sickly, worried expressions on their faces.

If Obama can sustain this attitude past this speech and show some action and results he has nothing to fear from Mitt Romney nor Rick Perry or any possible opponent in his re-election bid.

He just said he won’t let this economic crisis be used by anyone (Republicans) to wipe out safety regulations and other protections, of which he included collective bargaining (that should help get back the base).

I’ve watched presidents speak to congress ever since Eisenhower. I have never seen a speech with such a forceful tone. His decibel volume is even up…

Obama said he would take his message to every corner of the nation — thus putting his opposition on notice by threatening to use the full powers of the bully pulpit.

It was only words, but I think he hit a home run way out of the park.

No details on his plan and it remains to be seen how much substance there really was or is in his plan, but it seems to me he has put Republicans on the defensive. He can do such things as call for bridge projects in their home districts and let them try to deny people jobs by voting against them.

I think he used the usual vague and questionable suggestions politicians always use as how to pay for his program which he said would not raise the deficit, but that is the way things are. You know? It costs money to do things. We need that money circulating in the economy and we need to do useful things.

I said I was making these comments early in his speech. Well it was fairly short. It is over. A commentator said he did not actually use the world “infrastructure” because it was decided not to use “Washington speak”.  Not sure about that. It’s just a word, anyway, describing, well, infrastructure.

I once saw a documentary on the Great Depression saying we were the only country ever to go to the poor house in an automobile. I would say now we are the first country to go to the poorhouse in a big pickup pulling an RV and living in a humongous home (albeit underwater mortgagewise and maybe in foreclosure). It goes without saying that was a broad generalization not meant to be literal, but I do feel a bit embarrassed that we are so soft these days. But we are in dire economic straits nonetheless:

My original post for today follows:

Don’t know if I will be able to watch or listen to President Barack Obama’s big jobs speech this evening, but if I do I hope I can post something on it afterwards; it certainly seems as if it is a make or break event for him for his chances of re-election, that is unless the Republicans choose someone like Rick Perry and he (Perry) scares enough independents and other clear-thinking people with his rants against Social Security and his anti-science stance.

I do have a hard time understanding how Obama can increase employment or at least how he can increase and then sustain it by more government spending. There has to be money from the private sector and from citizens, taxpayers, to support that government spending. Using the government to create jobs is income redistribution, a practice our government has been using one way or another through both Democratic and Republican administrations. Even if you believe in income redistribution, you have to have a sustainable source of income. So it seems to me Obama needs to come up with some new economic direction and something beyond the bubble and burst cycle we have been going through.

Re-industrialization would be promising. Better utilization of our own national resources, especially for energy (while preserving reasonable environmental safeguards) certainly would be good (we would not have to wage costly and economically-draining wars that are really over oil not what we pretend them to be over).

Extending unemployment benefits (even if it needs to be done) will not create more jobs, except arguably through maintaining the purchasing power of people out of work and thus preserving jobs that depend upon that purchasing power — but that can’t go on forever (the money has to come from somewhere).

Extended unemployment benefits do have the effect of encouraging idleness, although they are needed at times too.

I’m not sure whether it is high tariffs on imported goods or some type of incentives for the increased production of consumer goods right here in the USA, but I think that would help, and as I always note in quick defense when I suggest this, I know the economics historians say that trade barriers is what exacerbated or even created the Great Depression of the 1930s, and as I always say: that was then, this is now.

When I began over-the-road truck driving I used to haul USA-made television sets out of  the Dallas-Ft. Worth area Zenith plant. People the age of my children (adults now) probably assume TV sets were always made in China.

But I know we don’t want to close the door to trade. It’s a two-way street or it is supposed to be. We ship them (other nations) stuff and they import our stuff. One bright spot I see constantly in my own job is agriculture. I haul both agricultural and other products to the Mexican border and bring back agricultural products from Mexico. One heck of a lot of jobs, including my own, are created and sustained by this. But we have to have a level playing field, and I don’t think we do.

In my opinion the big culprits may be United States-based corporations that outsource jobs and production and then bring it all back here. There should be some mechanism in government to discourage this. They get all the advantages, to include the protection of the judicial system and our military, not to mention a big market — they should be more loyal to the nation that provides so much.

It is sad to me that Levis — what could be more American than Levis? — are not made here anymore. And neither are Justin cowboy boots. We have sold our soul to foreign production.

There should also be, perhaps, more incentives for businesses to provide training. I was surfing the web and noted an advertisement for the Union Pacific Railroad. It noted that it provides training with no previous experience required (this was not a specific recruitment ad, just a generic ad for all their services).

I got into trucking through an employer who provided free training and a guaranteed job; no experience required. I don’t think there was a government incentive in my case, but a lot of people get unemployment benefits while training (legally). That is or can be money well spent.

Also, I hate to say it (but I have already broached the subject once), minimum wage laws probably do discourage employment at the low end. While no one wants to work at the low end, sometimes it is better than starving and going without shelter and one knows he or she is living off of his or her own efforts not the charity of government. Something has to be said for dignity and personal initiative. But the good aspects of low-end employment are offset to a degree when the government has to step in and subsidize those workers and/or their employers — maybe we do need to retain the minimum wage, but it should be just that, a minimum.

But something that has been floating around in my head for a long time is something I call the “government labor pool”. My idea is that people without jobs and without hope could sign up for a labor pool that would guarantee them a low-pay job doing most anything, from picking up trash to doing others things that usually just don’t get done for lack of revenue or priority — probably jobs not in competition with existing jobs.

(And it occurs to me: why are we putting so many people in prison. Sure the violent people need to be locked up — but all of the others? It really drains our economy. Kind of off the actual subject here, and then, I realize, they would all be in competition or jobs, but I’m just saying…)

Then there is the military:

Maybe we should have a mandatory draft for all young people (women included? Not sure). Instantly our military recruitment problem would be solved and a large chunk of job seekers would be removed from the market. Meanwhile, young people could learn valuable life skills and even jobs skills in the modern military which is so technology-driven.

I did not learn a lot in the Army, but then again, I did learn to make my bed in the morning and I drove a 52-ton tank. Today I drive a 40-ton (loaded) big truck.

Just some thoughts in anticipation of the Obama jobs speech.

ADD 1:

Just heard political pundit Ron Reagan say that the tax code needs to be overhauled so the rich have to pay their share. I think it needs to be simplified so everyone, no matter the economic class, pays a fair share with a minimum of tax deductions, although I see the need for tax incentives at times, which are essentially deductions and tax shifts to someone else. A simplification of the tax code would or could lead to much more efficiency in the use of tax dollars and provide business with a clear signal on what it faces, allowing it to make decisions on expansion.

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