Roundtable: What Should Obama Do?

We may have stopped the jobs freefall induced by the financial crisis, but the U.S. economy has been painfully slow to return to full employment. Everyone knows it's tough out there: Unemployment sits above 9%, and when you include all the people who are forced to work part-time or have stopped looking for jobs, that figure reaches 16%. The August jobs report showed a tragicomical gain of zero jobs.

Thursday night, President Obama addresses a joint session of Congress to highlight his proposals for boosting employment. He will reportedly call for $300 billion in tax cuts, infrastructure, and aid to states. I decided to ask a few of our Foolish economic contributors what they thought Obama should do.

Morgan Housel, Fool contributor
Presidents in general get too much credit when economies are booming and too much blame when they're sour. Ten years ago, President Clinton received far too much praise for an economy buoyed by the dot-com bubble. Today, the idea that if we had a different president the budget would be balanced, the economy would be humming, and jobs would be plentiful is delusional. We had a financial crisis, folks. They hurt.

That said, I think former Obama advisor Larry Summers nailed it when he pointed out that it's a false economy to be delaying infrastructure repairs when we can borrow money at record lows and construction unemployment is near 20%. These repairs absolutely have to get done someday, and the longer they're delayed the more costly they become. It's an incidence where spending money today can reduce unemployment and lower future deficits.

Finally, I'd like to see a jobs approach that acknowledges where the great majority of new jobs come from: New businesses, not small businesses, as is oft-repeated. Two things here are important. One, the U.S. Patent Office is in shambles, by its own estimates holding back "millions" of jobs due to delayed patent approvals. Second, I'd like someone to stand up and say that tomorrow's jobs aren't going to come from an elderly billionaire; they'll come from the 20-year-old Stanford kid tinkering with gadgets in his parents' basement. Any plan that doesn't emphasize education is inexcusable, in my opinion. 

Alex Dumortier, Fool contributor
What Mr. Obama should do is propose -- indeed, champion -- a second fiscal stimulus program to fund infrastructure projects, while simultaneously ramping up efforts to address the government's medium/long-term fiscal position. The two aren't inconsistent, they're complementary. The government can earn a positive return on well-chosen infrastructure projects -- particularly when they are funded by borrowings that cost less than 2% annually over 10 years. However, austerity is the dominant fashion, and Mr. Obama appears to have lost his taste for bold plans and the political battles they require.

Another possible initiative addresses the issue of household debt. Expanding and accelerating programs to reduce the principal on some of the mortgages that are underwater -- where the borrowers have a realistic hope of making the lower payments -- would be useful. Large lenders, particularly those that lent aggressively, would be forced to take writedowns on these loans. That's not something Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) needs right now, but it looks like an acceptable trade-off.

Mr. Bernanke's message at Jackson Hole was unambiguous: The government must step up and respond to the crisis with vigor -- there is only so much the Fed can do. Call me a cynic, but I'm expecting to be underwhelmed by the President's address. With politicians, I've learned to keep my expectations exceedingly low; that way, I'm not disappointed every time.

Matt Koppenheffer, Fool contributor
Imagine for a moment the scene in a hospital ER as doctors rush to treat the loser of a samurai duel. Are the doctors treating the sliced and diced warrior by just coating the gaping wounds with gobs of topical ointment and covering them over with gauze? Or are they going to do that along with stitching up the wounds and hooking the patient up to IV antibiotics?

Obviously, they're going to do the latter. Going the ointment-and-gauze route might be quick and make it seem like they're addressing the problem, but it's a short-term fix that won't help the patient heal properly.

The need to create jobs is an unfortunate reality right now because the economy is in such a sluggish state. But President Obama's response needs to be much bigger than that. It needs to address the fact that a big part of the problem is that we have a chunk of the workforce that's not changing with the economy. Three of the country's five most valuable companies are Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) , Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) , and IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) , underscoring the fact that we have a much more information- and knowledge-based economy as opposed to a factory- and manufacturing-based economy.

Forcing job creation is only a very-short-term fix. For a truly healthy country, we need to make sure workers have the skills needed to succeed in today's economy.

Ilan Moscovitz, Fool editor
There's no mystery as to why unemployment is so high right now: Consumers aren't spending because they're reeling from the housing bubble collapse, feeling anxious about their job security, or have already been laid off. Businesses aren't hiring because consumers aren't spending. With that self-perpetuating dynamic, it's easy to see why the economy continues to malinger.

The most direct way to clear up this economic traffic jam is to hire all those unemployed construction workers to rebuild our crumbling roads, rails, water lines, sewers, dams, and levees. We have to complete these projects within the next few years anyway, and doing them now would immediately employ construction workers, and, by putting money in their pockets, improve business sales and begin to break the current self-destructive unemployment dynamic. Not to mention the fact that the Treasury's cost of borrowing is at a 60-year low. Adjusted for inflation, Treasury interest rates are actually negative. The market is practically begging us to borrow money for these projects now. Given the need to create jobs and repair and upgrade our infrastructure, it'd be crazy not to take Treasury investors up on the offer.

State and local governments, on the other hand, are in a much worse position to boost employment because they have balanced-budget amendments. This has resulted in counterproductive measures during a jobs crisis, such as firing teachers, policemen, and firefighters. Since the start of the recovery, they've laid off 600,000 people. Considering how important education is for our increasingly knowledge-based economy, it's especially important that we shore up funding for schools and colleges and find ways to make college affordable for deserving students.

One final way to speed up the recovery would be to reduce the debt burden hanging over consumers by refinancing or reducing principal on mortgages. We do corporate debt restructurings all the time, and something similar for homeowners would be obviously helpful -- and not just for them, but for businesses with weak sales. In cases where such modifications wouldn't work, people could rent their houses. The banks that greatly contributed to the financial crises before being bailed out won't like this, of course, but judging from their capital levels, profits, and bonuses, JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  ) and Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC  ) can afford it. Plus, they owe us one.

What jobs proposal do you think President Obama should make? Let us know in the comments section below.

Ilan Moscovitz doesn't own shares of any company mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter @TMFDada. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, IBM, Apple, and Microsoft. The Fool owns shares of and has created a ratio put spread position on Wells Fargo. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Microsoft and Apple, as well as creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft and Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


Read/Post Comments (106) | Recommend This Article (58)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 12:41 PM, overley wrote:

    I still do not understand for the life of me why they did not do the infrastructure spending on the first stimulus bill. Now, it is politically difficult to actually accomplish this. The president could move to rescind Obamacare which we do not have the money for. He could reduce onerous regulations on industy, embrace clean coal, natural gas and oil drilling domestically. He could also end the law suits against the banks to restore confidence in the financial sector. He could meet with Boehner to compromise on a few bills to restore confidence in the political process, much like Clinton and Gringrich did. His trying to not let a crisis go to waste has made matters worse.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 12:43 PM, NEMnyWtch wrote:

    I love that a bunch of our Professional Fools give their opinions in this article. It's interesting to see the similarities in your ideas. However, I would like to provide input to Iian about the statement, "In such cases where modifications wouldn't work, people could rent their houses." I was the stupid fool who actually did this a year ago, and bought another property. Let's just say the past year has been extremely educational. Make no mistake about it - being a landlord is a business, and a costly one at that. Unless you have a multi-family property, you had better have a lot of cash saved up before attempting this. Renters are a lot like equities, some are good, some look good when you buy them, and not so much a few months later. Also, the situation being that modification won't work, means you need to collect more in rent just to break even. Rents are up, but finding good tenants, with good job history, etc., is another matter. I would really warn folks to do their research before attempting this.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 1:57 PM, TMFFlushDraw wrote:

    I also liked an idea I saw about paying companies to hire unemployed workers and train them. There are (supposedly) millions of jobs at companies waiting to be filled by skilled workers, but a lack of skilled workers to fill them. If the government is paying these people to be unemployed, why not pay them to do something productive, get training, and boost domestic production? This would then turn into a full-time worker in 6-months to a year.

    I'm sure it would be a political nightmare and the details would be a stumbling block, but I liked the concept.

    Travis Hoium

    TMFFlushDraw

    PS. Way too much agreement and logic in this article. No way this would ever pass.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 2:25 PM, silentnomore wrote:

    Instead of having the government pay unemployed people to work in the private sector, invest in education and training programs. The private sector can hire and train folks as needed. There are programs in place to do this and so it is easy to implement with few additional administrative dollars. What companies are waiting for skilled workers? What skills?

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 2:29 PM, silentnomore wrote:

    I cheer the government for filing lawsuits against the financial companies that wreaked havoc on our economy. They were irresponsible and greedy. There should be a consequence.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 2:34 PM, silentnomore wrote:

    I am sick and tired of hearing the term Obamacare. Give me a break. That is so childish. Our healthcare system is in crisis. The amount we spend as a nation on healthcare is much larger than other countries with results that are less satisfactory. Something had to be done. What has been done is a start. We can work on a plan, but the namecalling has got to stop. Where is the inteligent discourse? Let's talk about US health care policy and stop ending the conversation with "Obamacare."

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 2:36 PM, slash32is4 wrote:

    stop attacking the banks while asking them to lend money?

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 2:39 PM, Bert31 wrote:

    Cut out all the extensions to unemployment benefits to a max of 26 weeks. This may lead people to accept positions they may prefer not take but have no choice if they want to have income.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 2:44 PM, silentnomore wrote:

    Morgan Housel - you hit the nail on the head.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 2:52 PM, tnk4800 wrote:

    1. Dump the Fed immediately, bernake greenspan they are not your friend.

    2. End Minimum Wage

    3. create National right to work law

    4. end collective bargening in every government

    related position

    5. End the wars, close all military bases except for the ones NATO would fund. Military to protect our ports, power, cyber space, rail and water sysytems. Corp of engineers develop strategically located water basins coast to coast border to border, with privatized construction, to put out fires, stop flooding, create energy

    6. throw out our current tax law, eliminate all loop holes, write offs and deductions, pay according to ability and consumption

    7. Tax business to support & fund all education at both college, graduate and PHD and also technical vocational school levels

    8. Fully Fund Social Security, it's not an entitlement. people pay into it they should receive it. Protect and shelter our old, sick and mentally challenged. It's just the right thing to do.

    8. National Health Care for everyone one plan, no specials or cadilac plans, use the Mayo, Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins to recommend and run the system. Make one visit to any of these medical facilities you will understand why they succeed, lives are saved, medical advancements are made. Have them Partner with Universities and business. Protect patents and discoveries to encourage profits, but feed the pipeline of medicine and devicies needed to improve our lives.

    9. Tax the living day lights out of China and others like it who take jobs out of our country. Tax the living daylights out of companies here that offshore invest without first taking care of layed off employees and the retraining needed.

    10 SEC. Punish Fraud, throw the book out and punish fraud.

    11. Make the banks involved with mortgage fraud and bundiling of junk pay down the debt of those toxic mortgages they created

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 2:52 PM, blaine567 wrote:

    The federal government needs to:

    a) cut corporate taxes to 10% at most (really 0% but almost no one will buy into that one, because the consumer is the one that pays the tax); we the USA have one of the highest rates of corp. taxes in the world.

    b) get rid of the income tax for individuals and make a flat sales tax around 15% at the retail level. And NO VAT (value added tax) tax.

    c) remove all taxes on investments and interest

    With more money in everyones pockets... we fools will invest that money and everyone else will spend the money. Thus jobs will be created and the economy will grow.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 2:54 PM, TMFBane wrote:

    Here are two interesting ideas that were put forward by an entrepreneur who was interviewed by the WSJ: "Allow immigrants who create jobs to stay in the country and forgive student loans for new college graduates who become entrepreneurs." Clearly, we need to do much more in this country to foster entrepreneurship. The rest of the piece is here:

    http://professional.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405311190364820...

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 2:59 PM, XMFScott wrote:

    I think we need to start with properly identifying the problem at its root.

    At the heart of the problem is a lack of confidence...by consumers, employers and investors. The lack of confidence stems from a lack of stability...in sovereign debt, in financial markets, in regulation, in tax policy, in energy and in our reliance and involvement in the Middle East. I'd like to see solutions that confidently address these root causes.

    Stimulus is temporary and the players understand this.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 3:02 PM, setht23 wrote:

    I have a big problem with Matt Koppenhoffer's take on the situation. I mean anyone who thinks someone can survive losing a samurai duel is obviously delusional. haha good article

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 3:04 PM, drgroup wrote:

    R E S I G N.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 3:09 PM, wjl649 wrote:

    The best thing Obama can do to turn this economy around is: RESIGN (and take Biden with him.)

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 3:11 PM, Tygered wrote:

    Unfortunately, the only thing that will happen in this country is that the rich will get richer via even more tax cuts (ala Bushie) and the working class will get squeezed even more and the infrastructure will continue to crumble and education will be a forgotten word. Do I sound cynical? Yes, but that is the way it will be as even more teaheads take over. This country is done for. Invest in China, Russia, Brazil or India.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 3:16 PM, oedipamaas99 wrote:

    The sad fact is that nothing will happen no matter what Obama proposes. The House will not pass any legislation that will help the economy because if the economy improves Obama has a better shot at being re-elected. As much sense as all of the ideas above would make I predict nothing but obstructionism from the House. Maybe after the 2012 election something positive can happen but we are stuck until then.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 3:20 PM, wjl649 wrote:

    "Infrastructure crumbling? More "investment in infrastructure"??? Where has all the money gone from decades of collecting bridge and highways tolls and from the gasoline tax at every level of government in every state in the union up to and including the Federal government? I thought THAT was supposed to be re-invested in "infrastructure". Now Obama wants more? You have to be kidding....wake up.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 3:37 PM, windowman100 wrote:

    He should just admit he is clueless and resign.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 4:35 PM, sgt1917 wrote:

    I don't agree with any solutions which require spending more money we don't have (except as stated below), and higher taxes on people.

    Solutions:

    A renewed focus in bringing back "Made in America".

    Unfortunately, some federal dollars do need to be spent in order to maintain our infrastructure. "Maintain" is the key word, however. We don't need to beautify or add more stuff unless absolutely necessary.

    Tone down the "Green" stuff; it's costing far, far more money than its worth.

    Post office - if it can't survive financially then we must let it die. If the private sector and the internet can do it better (and it does) then that's the way it should be. Time goes on.

    Amtrak - quit the subsidies; there is a reason that it doesnt work.

    Abolish ObamaCare, erasing the uncertainties it created in the business climate and the resultant freeze on hiring. We can't afford it and don't need it.

    Roll back unnecessary regulations which impede progress (I'm sure there are tons of them).

    Cut waste, spending and fraud in government programs.

    Cut unnecessary government programs.

    Scale back the size and scope of the federal governement.

    Repeal income taxation. Cut the corporate loopholes that result in some large corporations paying no taxes (such as GE). Reduce taxes that are paid by corporations.

    Share the tax burden among ALL Americans who receive income, using a Fair Tax (equal percentage paid by all)...except, increase taxes on the TRULY rich (like Buffet - he wants to pay more anyway, and the multi-million annual bonus CEO's).

    Eliminate Public Sector unions. They do nothing but damage and should never have existed to begin with.

    Enforce the exisiting immigration laws.

    Secure the USA borders.

    Continue to strive to reduce energy dependance while at the same time cutting ties with the "climate change" hypothesis. . Stop over-regulating the ability to explore and drill for more oil, oil sands, coal and natural gas. Stop over-regulating other manufactured items, such as automobiles, which has driven up there costs astronomically over the years.

    Get out of the United Nations (which is anything but). We are not the "Earth", we are the United States of America, a sovereign and great nation and not "just another country".

    Stop trying to police the entire world with our military forces. Some things need to take care of themselves and we don't need to be wasting billions of dollars trying to make everything like we expect it to be. Get our of Afghanistan - there's no reason to be there any longer.

    Abolish the TSA.

    Abolish the Department of Education and return all educational decisions and means to the States where it belongs.

    Repair the Patents department to free up the flow of American ideas.

    Repair the Justice system such that unreasonable or obviously wasteful litigation is disallowed.

    Quit trying to please all of the people all of the time. It's not possible, and it's wasteful.

    Bring back a true minimum wage so that youngsters can also get to work and get jobs. Prevent Unions from preventing this.

    That's all I can think of for now. These are just a few of many things which can be done that would result in improvements, unlike anything that President Obama has suggested or will suggest.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 4:41 PM, Teo123 wrote:

    1.) Reform tax structure so that everyone pays something and those who make millions pay their share. This should help shape/tackle the long-term deficit problem, improving the outlook for the broader markets.

    2.) Improve infrastructure spending in a way that actually leads to the defective roads/bridges getting the needed upgrades;

    3.) Better finance public education (a long time ago, when I was a kid, the conservatives used to say that we didn't need government programs like welfare because we had such a great public education system. They gutted welfare and are now gutting public education);

    4.) Develop a system of entrepreneurial tax credits to encourage people to take the risks needed to establish new businesses and grow jobs

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 4:43 PM, souht wrote:

    No single action is going to make the difference but a number can make a difference. Allow companies to repatriate earnings from overseas at a special tax rate providing that they reinvest the money into capital projects in the US. Let's get additional revenue where we can and new jobs where it makes sense. Infrastructure is way too broad of a term but we do need to re-invest in our transportation and energy structures. Let's introduce a cost/benefit analysis into new and even existing regulations and laws. Was the soon to be extinct spotted owl really worth over 30,000 jobs in the Northwest? Maybe so, but the way that the Feds work, no one ever got to assess the balance.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 4:53 PM, xferjenx wrote:

    1. End Obamacare immediately before the Supreme Court does it for him in an election year. There's a trillion saved right there.

    2. RESIGN. Though I guess he already has with his leaderless, partisan approach, confidence needs to be restored in the economy and that won't happen until this anti-business hack is gone. The market will JUMP if he resigned tonite.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 4:58 PM, xferjenx wrote:

    sgt1917 for president!!!

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 5:04 PM, TMFDiogenes wrote:

    @ NEMnyWtch

    "I love that a bunch of our Professional Fools give their opinions in this article. It's interesting to see the similarities in your ideas. However, I would like to provide input to Iian about the statement, "In such cases where modifications wouldn't work, people could rent their houses." I was the stupid fool who actually did this a year ago, and bought another property. Let's just say the past year has been extremely educational. Make no mistake about it - being a landlord is a business, and a costly one at that...."

    No kidding, I don't think it's something I'd ever want to tackle. What I had in mind is that foreclosures are extremely costly for mortgage investors who end up with properties they have to upkeep but that generate no revenue. In many cases, they'd probably be better off becoming landlords than paying upkeep on a bunch of deteriorating property they're unwilling to sell at current prices. So might homeowners, assuming the rent is affordable.

    Thanks for giving us a landlord's perspective,

    Ilan

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 5:15 PM, ShaunConnell wrote:

    So this is why you your website is located at fool.com.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 5:16 PM, StoicAthos wrote:

    1) Eliminate Corporate Taxes

    2) Institute that companies that trade on US exchanges pay a mandatory dividend of a minimum of 25% of profits

    3) Tax dividends as normal income

    4) Start cutting entire Federal Departments that are completely unnecessary, or even harmful - such as the Federal Department of Education. This will cost some government jobs, but will give the market a lot more confidence that the Federal government is actually taking steps to deal with the deficit.

    5) Repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 5:42 PM, newageinvestor wrote:

    I am so heartened to see real suggestions among the Fools instead of some kind of thing resembling the reckless right wing propaganda coming out of Congress about taxes.

    I think one of the commonalities is that Obama has been way, way too timid in trying to stimulate the economy. The housing bubble issue just killed all of us and we've got to get some kind of government intervention here because the market didn't work.

    I am underemployed right now so I'm looking forward to something substantial being done instead of all the pre-campaign stuff. I really hope Congress can get serious this time, but Obama really hasn't ever stood up to them.

    Keeping my fingers crossed for tomorrow.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 5:44 PM, Varchild2008 wrote:

    1) Give Utah back to Utah

    2) Give Alaska Anwaar back to Alaska

    3) Let Automakers decide what cars to build

    No Cafe Standards.

    4) Repeal Affordable Healthcare Act

    5) Repeal Dodd/Frank Financial Reform Bill

    6) End Home Mortgage Refinance Program

    7) End Payroll Tax Cut along with all other Tax Credits

    8) End the Income Tax System and replace with a Consumption Tax system

    9) Reduce Corporate Tax rate to 20%

    10) Don't tax foreign earnings brought to the U.S.

    11) Issue EPA moratorium and allow Congress to conduct a Regulatory Review on all EPA regulations.

    12) Let's get free trade deals passed into law with Columbia, Korea, etc.

    13) Eliminate Ciggarette Tax.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 5:53 PM, NorthPort2000 wrote:

    It seems that Americans can come up with better solutions to our problems, compared to politicians. Most of them base their decisions on election terms, and bringing home the bacon. Because of that, they will never make sacrifices to help the country in the long run. If Congress really wants to improve the economy, the most cost effective way could be for all of them to start acting like professional adults. That might quickly bring back confidence and hope this country desperately needs. Legislative branch reminds me of uncontrollable little kids playing outside in the backyard, screaming, "That's mine.. Give it back.. Mommy he hit me first.." while also destroying the patio furniture, and the Executive branch reminds me of the parents of those kids, not controlling them like they like should, because they are too busy drinking wine with each other, talking about how great their kids are.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 5:58 PM, xetn wrote:

    I will second (or is it 3rd, 4th) that Obama and company should resign. He can take is pretense of knowledge about how to run an economy elsewhere. For the record, no politician has ever created a sustainable job (except for government jobs). For example, just look at the last attempts to "jump-start" jobs, the economy, etc. We are no better off than we were. As a matter of fact, we are much worse off.

    Companies do not hire employees based on taxes, etc. They hire because they believe the new employee will contribute more than they cost.

    It is the profit motive that leads to hiring. Sure, Obama and co. can "invest in infrastructure" but how do they know where and how much to "invest". And, where will they get the money? They don't have any, unless they steal it from the productive sector and give it to someone else, less their "handling fee". The other alternative is to finance with debt, but off course, we already have an abundance of that.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 6:10 PM, Varchild2008 wrote:

    Taxes eat away at profits xetn.

    Yes Profits = Hiring... But, lowering taxes = higher profit margins.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 6:22 PM, DJDynamicNC wrote:

    General amnesty for illegal immigrants brings them into the daylight economy and puts their earnings into a taxable basis. It also ensures they are subject to minimum wage regulations, putting more money in their pockets and providing an immediate stimulus.

    The infrastructure bank is a great idea.

    End the Bush tax cuts, and lift the cap on payroll tax contributions for Social Security. By immediately taking a large weight off the deficit and denying the deficit hawks their core issue, this will give Obama the political capital to push for more effective stimulus measures.

    Give everyone who wants to work the chance to do so. A modern day CCC or similar program would be stimulative and would get needed work done. It would also represent a compassionate option by giving everybody in the nation the option to work for a living wage if they want it, and at the same time would be immune from conservative attacks about shiftless poor people since it would be jobs on offer, not simple money or food stamps. There is an ethical component as well - I rather believe that everyone in this country has a RIGHT to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness - but beyond that, it makes simple economic sense. It would have the added advantage of forcing Rush Limbaugh to proclaim himself against the idea of people working for a living - I'm eager to see how he twists his beliefs around that one, though I'm sure he'll manage it just fine. That's pure bonus points, though.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 6:24 PM, DJDynamicNC wrote:

    Also, borrowing costs are extremely low right now (some ratings downgrade, eh?) so this is an ideal time to borrow money to pay for infrastructure spending, public education funding, and stimulus. Increased tax revenue from the additional work will help pay for the borrowing, but it can honestly all be financed simply by letting the Bush tax cuts lapse and restoring taxes to levels somewhat below those set by Reagan.

    I look forward to hearing from the conservatives here about how Reagan-level taxes are suddenly too high.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 6:27 PM, DJDynamicNC wrote:

    @TMFFlushDraw - I like your idea about worker training. It makes complete sense to me.

    Even if you work hard and make all the right decisions, you can still be swept away by the economy or technology - imagine a pagesetter who spent years learning to literally cut and paste newspaper pages together. Even if this person was the best pagesetter in history, he or she would be out of a job now. Such a person should be offered job training for a new career.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 6:29 PM, coatails wrote:

    wow, what a great article, if you look at the difference of ideas being expressed in the responses produced. a lot of disagreement. love the idea the america's done, hey who wants to move to Russia, India or China. Brazil only if it were Rio after stealing the church offering.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 6:33 PM, TMFHousel wrote:

    <<Yes Profits = Hiring... But, lowering taxes = higher profit margins.>>

    Agree in general, but it's important to note that profit margins are near an all-time high. Too little profit is not what's holding businesses back from hiring.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 6:42 PM, The1MAGE wrote:

    The government often takes action to "improve" the economy. (And honestly it is more often an excuse to promote political agendas then to actually help the economy.)

    The problem is that it actually interferes and slows down recoveries. (I am paraphrasing an economist citing actual historical data, but was too lazy to search for links for the data.)

    But this is logical because the solution is too often a shell game. The government does not create value most of the time, it simply moves money around. As a result there is no more money available, it has just moved from one place to another.

    In fact the Fed often takes action that results in the reduction in the value of our money. While this can have the effect of increasing exports, it also reduces the value of the bank accounts, which could result in no true benefit.

    Obama stated he was going to follow in the footsteps of FDR, unfortunately there is research showing that FDR's actions actually increased the length of the depression by 7 years.

    http://newsroom.ucla.edu/portal/ucla/FDR-s-Policies-Prolonge...

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 6:42 PM, Yahalom wrote:

    Do these two things:

    (1) ZERO TAX for up to 10 years on any new company that employ, in new ventures, people who are currently unemployed at the time of the legislation. A sliding scale should be used with maximum benefits going to companies with maximum retention of those same employees. Cost to the US taxpayer: zero.

    (2) Follow the advice of Linda Chavez (N Y Post) who advocates a Green Card Lottery awarding US citizenship to one million immigrants on condition (apart from obvious security clearances) that each one of them buys a house in the US with cash. Naturally protections and conditions must be in place to prevent abuse and fraud. However, with average home prices across the nation at around $150,000, the stimulus to the US economy via the housing sector is obvious. Cost to the US taxpayer: zero.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 6:52 PM, TopAustrianFool wrote:

    The economy is not moving because the past stimulus funded by money printing cause malinvestmen in capital projects, equipment and labor for damand that never materialized. So now you have to give the economy time to restructure into capital investments and labor for real demand that will be long termed and sustainable. How do you make the new demand sustainable? Do nothing. That way the free market will dictate the needs and demand of the consumer. If you stimulate you will make it worse. LEAVE IT ALONE! IT WILL FIX ITSELF!

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 7:08 PM, Yahalom wrote:

    Banks that were bailed out by the US taxpayers should have been forced, as a condition of their bailouts, to make a proportion of those funds available to small businesses. That obligation should be put on the banks now - maybe instead of suing some of them. Increased employment requires brand new entrepreneurs. Those potential entrepreneurs, perhaps on the brink of starting an enterprise, need that door to finance opened. There is no way that existing employers are going to shoulder the entire burden of employing the 10% currently unemployed people. There are those who would share that burden if they had the chance. Back them up.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 7:28 PM, Lynken wrote:

    Move along here, people. Nothing to see in these comments but hipster libertarians that have more love for big corporations than they do their fellow human being.

    Asbestos is going to make a comeback what with no regulations, people are going to finally be able to work three or more jobs because $4.30/hr is what a company decides it wants to pay the slaves since minimum wage would be abolished, and forget intercity traveling. Screw the rail system. Why would the good ol' US of A want to make it easy to get around the country?

    People would rather cut their lives short by ten or fifteen years because they can't afford to see a doctor right now for cryin' out loud. I don't know how some of you sleep at night. Probably surrounded by a small armory of automatic firearms with extended magazines if I had to guess.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 7:48 PM, TopAustrianFool wrote:

    "Banks that were bailed out by the US taxpayers should have been forced, as a condition of their bailouts, to make a proportion of those funds available to small businesses."

    They had that. I think what happened was that banks really could not afford to lend at such low interest rates, and it was not worth for a lot of people to buy at such interest rates.

    The reason the banks could not lend was that by the time they would get repaid they would loose money due to the 10%/yr inflation the Fed was racking up. And of course due to Dodd-Frank and lack of share buyers, they could securitize the crappy loans anymore.

    I am not sure that's what you wanted either, but realize the unintended consequences of what you are suggesting.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 7:49 PM, TopAustrianFool wrote:

    I meant that "they could NOT securitize the crappy loans anymore."

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 7:51 PM, TopAustrianFool wrote:

    So your Stimulus #1 + QE1 + QE2 did not work and you want more. When will you stop? When we are all the Weimar Republic? What is enough stimulus?

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 7:53 PM, TopAustrianFool wrote:

    Mr. Geithner: “But I would say there were three types of broad errors of policy and policy both here and around the world. One was that monetary policy around the world was too loose too long. And that created this just huge boom in asset prices, money chasing risk. People trying to get a higher return. That was just overwhelmingly powerful.”

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 8:26 PM, whereaminow wrote:

    If anyone hear has read John T. Flynn's "The Roosevelt Myth" you will enjoy this article. For it is just like the chapter entitled "Dance of the Crackpots" in which Flynn describes with usual sharp tongue all of the hair-brained schemes that FDR's inner circle came up with to promote job growth during the Great Depression.

    It reads almost exactly like these 4 crackpots.

    What should Obama do? There is a lot he can do. He can urge Congress to repeal the federal minimum wage law. If States follow suit, that alone would provide employment for millions and millions of unemployed young adults and minorities. He could end the wars, saving trillion (s?) per year. He could ask Congress to abolish the EPA, IRS, FDA, FTC, ATF, CIA, NSA, and the myriad of other government agencies of parasitism that either directly destroy productivity or subvert America through theft and destruction overseas.

    He could enforce fiscal discipline by vetoing anything other than a balanced budget. He could direct the Federal Reserve to take its foot off the monetary gas pedal, allowing interest ratest to rise. High interest rates give incentive to save, which causes a lengthening of the structure of production with the end result being a wealthier nation.

    Lots can be done. Or we can do the same old tired garbage that has failed in every downturn in history.

    But if you really want to understand what is happening here, I can think of no better book than "America's Great Depression" by Murray N. Rothbard, Dean of the Austrian School of Economics. His analysis of the true cause of the GD (Federal Reserve money printing which created a spectacular boom that inevitably bust followed by the idiotic economic ideas of Hoover/FDR -- the same ideas being parroted in the article) is irrefutable. And anyone who reads this book will be light years ahead of the nonsense that parades as "economic theory" among the mainstream of economics, politics, and journalism.

    David in Qatar

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 8:44 PM, tem01 wrote:

    What should Obama do?

    Resign.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 9:23 PM, skypilot2005 wrote:

    It is rumored that President Obama is going to propose “Stimulus II”. They say he is going to repackage it and use a different term. The result will be the same. Government cannot create productive long-term jobs; only private business can, that is an undisputable fact.

    It is too bad the President isn’t smart enough to realize he has received bad economic advice. This is evidenced by the fact that he continues to surround himself with inept economic advisors.

    Or maybe, “It’s still Bush’s fault.”

    Lowering taxes on individuals and corporations is the surest way to provide long-term sustainable growth. History has proven this time and time again.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 9:35 PM, patriot957 wrote:

    "I think former Obama advisor Larry Summers nailed it when he pointed out that it's a false economy to be delaying infrastructure repairs when we can borrow money at record lows and construction unemployment is near 20%." - Morgan Hausel

    What Hausel, economists and Washington fail to understand is that while rebuilding infrastructure may be necessary, construction workers built houses 5 years ago, not roads and bridges. Plumbers, electricians, and carpenters may find some work, but roofers, tile and carpet layers, and HVAC installers are not needed to rebuild roads.

    It is very disconcerting to see educated people believing that borrowing money at 2% is always a wise decision, even if you owe more than you can repay in thirty years. Until we learn that the market always determines the rate, eventually, the Fed artificially lowering the rate only serves to delay and prolong the inevitable.

    Bernanke is purportedly an expert student of the Great Depression, however, in 1933, the U.S. national debt was a minor fraction of our GNP (recall that term?, now GDP). The government has redefined GNP, inflation inputs, and saving bonds. Gold was declared illegal to hold/own during the banking crisis of the 1930's. The Obama healthcare bill now mandates that any gold transaction over $600 (1/3 oz. today) be reported to the IRS. Instead of disallowing owning gold, the Dept. of Treasury can now monitor who owns gold.

    I sound like a survivalist, which I am not. But I definitely fear what the government is moving toward.

    David in Qatar apparently sees the reality we face. In order for our economy to improve, interest rates must rise, so banks will lend and make money again, and housing projects can find financing, and construction workers will earn paychecks again, and the rest of the economy can recover.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 9:36 PM, hbofbyu wrote:

    The easiest adjustment/fix to our political system would be to restrict the Presidency to one 6-year term. It is simply ridiculous and counter-productive to have a sitting president trying to run for re-election. Do you think he is thinking long term? No. He is thinking short term pop. A quick fix that just hurts us in the long run.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 9:39 PM, skypilot2005 wrote:

    On September 07, 2011, at 4:35 PM, sgt1917 wrote:

    "Abolish ObamaCare, erasing the uncertainties it created in the business climate and the resultant freeze on hiring. We can't afford it and don't need it.

    Tone down the "Green" stuff; it's costing far, far more money than its worth.

    Continue to strive to reduce energy dependance while at the same time cutting ties with the "climate change" hypothesis. . Stop over-regulating the ability to explore and drill for more oil, oil sands, coal and natural gas. Stop over-regulating other manufactured items, such as automobiles, which has driven up there costs astronomically over the years.

    Repair the Patents department to free up the flow of American ideas.

    Bring back a true minimum wage so that youngsters can also get to work and get jobs. Prevent Unions from preventing this."

    Great Suggestions.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 9:53 PM, dividendgrowth wrote:

    Cut welfare, use the saving on infrastructure.

    Tort reform, the source of evil for skyrocketing costs of doing business.

    Print some money to get 1 million excess housing inventory off the market, this should finally end the vicious cycle of falling prices and strategic defaults. Considering that average home now sells for $170k, buying 1M of them only costs about $170 billion, which is a lot less than the 2 QEs and this new Obama package.

  • Report this Comment On September 07, 2011, at 10:11 PM, georcole wrote:

    When our credit ceiling was being thrown around tax cuts were bad. That's a month ago. Now he wants a $300B tax cut?? I am so confused. So inconsistent. Is this what the people of the USA voted for?

  • Report this Comment On September 08, 2011, at 12:16 AM, sgperformer wrote:

    Well, one thing is for sure. He shouldn't listen to our 4 MF panelists!!

    Obama is a lost president. He has no plan, he is listening to sensationalistic advice, and he's trying to will the economy back to health with a teleprompter. The House of Representatives has n ochoice but to BLOCK his legislative proposals because there is no substance behind them.

    The very first thing that has to be done is abolish Obama care.

    Next, open up American energy production.

    Just say NO to the behemoth EPA, which has trashed american jobs at every turn.

    Defeat unions.

    Elect a President who demands that the Federal Government get the god-damned hell out of every nook and cranny of every American's daily life!!

    Yours, sgperformer

  • Report this Comment On September 08, 2011, at 1:26 AM, rfaramir wrote:

    Let us try Liberty! The free market knows how to employ people to satisfy consumers, politicians and bureaucrats do not.

    Start by eliminating whole federal departments, starting with those which write the most regulations, and continue to those which spend the most money. Don't stop until the federal budget is balanced. Then continue a bit further so taxes can be cut a little.

    Remember the Great Depression of 1920-21? No? That's because we dealt with it by cutting spending and eliminating the WWI-era regulations. When revenues go down, spending has to be cut to match. It's really pretty simple. Easy? No, not politically easy, but the Right Thing To Do.

  • Report this Comment On September 08, 2011, at 2:00 AM, ershler wrote:

    Lynken,

    If you are sitting on a small armory of automatic weapons you are probably pretty well off since a fully automatic assault rifle cost $15,000+ these days or you don't care about the jail time and fines that tend to arise if you get caught possessing them illegally.

    I own extended mags, semi-automatic rifles with pistol grips, telescoping stocks, flash suppressors, bayonet lugs (though I've never had the slightest inclination to attach a knife to the end of a rifle) and shotguns with pistol grips, telescoping stocks, extended fixed magazines holding more than 5 rounds but I see the damage that would be caused by some of these proposals.

    Also, for everyone who says government can't create jobs please explain to me how POSCO is actually a case of capitalism triumphing over government involvement.

  • Report this Comment On September 08, 2011, at 2:29 AM, MichaelDSimms wrote:

    Hariakiri.

  • Report this Comment On September 08, 2011, at 2:35 AM, ScottmFool wrote:

    Australia seems to be doing pretty well in comparison. Has anyone bothered to check out why they've gone relatively unscathed????

  • Report this Comment On September 08, 2011, at 2:40 AM, MichaelDSimms wrote:

    Australia is selling minerals to China. Big time.

  • Report this Comment On September 08, 2011, at 3:11 AM, tom0s wrote:

    Arguments that taxes and regulations are the cause of the problem are false, the economy is actually worse where regulations are lax and taxes low.

    There is plenty of money in this country, and the world. The problem is not enough liquidity. (The authors explained it pretty well.) Government tilted the playing field to the rich for years, the only way to get the money moving again is for government to tilt it back for awhile, and take Warren Buffet up on his request to tax him and his friends more fairly.

    Invest in public infrastructure, as the authors said.

    We must also take the market back from the gamblers, it is no longer investment, but a big ponzi scheme looking for the next bubble. Institute a 0.1% sales tax on all equities trades. The buy and hold investor won't even notice it, but the computerized traders will pay enough to hire lots of infrastructure workers, and hopefully begin to dampen that kind of trading. Maybe more money would then start to flow into real investing, where the cash goes to the entrepreneur instead of other gamblers.

  • Report this Comment On September 08, 2011, at 5:09 AM, CaptainWidget wrote:

    Higher taxes. The best tax rate would be 100%. That gives the optimal amount of funds to the federal government to re-invest into our infrastructure. After all if they're able to borrow at negative rates, we should give them as much capital as possible to take on public works projects. It's not like the rates will ever rise. It's not like the projects will go over budget. It's not like the real negative borrowing will be eaten up by the real bureaucratic rule of two....

    Speaking of borrowing, we need to borrow lots to rebuild infrastructure. To increase spending, people need jobs. But everyone needs a job. The only way to employ everyone is to decrease efficiency. Otherwise the infrastructure will all be built in a year and those people will be unemployed once again. Have them dig the holes with spoons and build the buildings with tweezers. That way everyone is employed for life.

    Things we certainly SHOULDN'T do

    1) Stop spending money that doesn't yet exist

    2) Raze the tax code, start over with a flat rate

    3) Stop subsidizing people who don't work

    4) End all "dollar weakening" policies

    5) Let interest rates rise naturally to rates that will clear the market of all existing loanable funds without forcing new dollar creation

    ...ya....definitely don't do that stuff.....

  • Report this Comment On September 08, 2011, at 8:26 AM, Franky102 wrote:

    I'm assuming that the readers of this site are employed. There is a lot of unemployment in America but not so throughout the world. One of "problems" with being a rich country in a globalized economy is that the semi skilled workers will always get left out of the equation by the manufacturing companies looking for a cheaper labor force. The economy of the world isn't bad, it's just not great domestically. Look at the corporate profits of the American companies doing business outside the US. They are amazing. Here is an article about why to forget about US unemployment and put your cash to work in the market now.

    http://tinyurl.com/3r4qqky

  • Report this Comment On September 08, 2011, at 8:53 AM, kirkydu wrote:

    Good article. Sound and reasonable.

    The infrastructure rebuild ought to be more grand. We ought to build water filtration/aquifer recharging plants around America, as San Diego did, as water IS becoming a huge issue. We ought to get serious about rebuilding the power grid including dozens of new natural gas power plants. We ought to tie together the wireless communications grid nationally. We ought to refit and remodel schools across America to be more supportive of education, particularly science education. And yes, we ought to rebuild crumbling roads and bridges.

    We should allow multinational corporations to repatriate money either at a new corporate tax rate of 15% or for 0% if it verifiably goes to hiring.

    We should pay for it all by getting rid of tax loopholes, including allowing fat cats to call income, capital gains, that cost about $3-6 Trillion per decade (depending on what exactly you consider a loophole). The rest of that money should be used to make the income tax code permanent.

    In short (too late on that again), the President should go big.

  • Report this Comment On September 08, 2011, at 9:24 AM, SophicF00L wrote:

    When did it become the Federal Government's 'job' to create jobs for the American people?

    These are all very excellent suggestions. Might I suggest we simply pull together as a nation and create an amendment that limits the terms of each house of congress to two terms. If you want to be a career politician then you will have to win two terms as Rep, two terms as Sen, and then two terms as President and you are then done. With a higher turnover rate in Congress we remove those 20+ year career politicians.

    To be honest, I am no where near smart enough to know how to fix this mess we are in. I do think we need to start using common sense with our government finances soon if we don't want to see a total collapse of the country within my lifetime.

  • Report this Comment On September 08, 2011, at 9:28 AM, futurethink wrote:

    We have to think past what is happening now or we will just have this problem again and again. We have not thought about how we sustain a population of humans when 30%, 40% 50%, 60%, 70% of the productive work is performed by automation and robotics. This is not a new problem we have, it is one that is not adequately addressed by the "service sector mentality". Sure we can move to cheap labor, but the cheapest labor is non human. So how do we share the benefits of this new society with everyone while more and more people will not be able to find "work" in our society. More and more jobs are automated, requiring fewer and fewer people to produce more and more goods. The profits are not longer spread out amongst a large number of people, but fewer and fewer. Soon there will be no buyers for the goods because there will be too few human workers earning wages to pay for the goods. So do cities and states require the corporations to share the wealth much like Alaska does, or do we just watch the country die with the very few at the top having 'won' all the prizes. There is no winner in a society where only a few survive.

  • Report this Comment On September 08, 2011, at 9:34 AM, kirkydu wrote:
  • Report this Comment On September 08, 2011, at 9:36 AM, kirkydu wrote:

    Politically, It’s D.O.A. But Is Obama’s Jobs Plan a Good One?

    http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-ticker/politically-d-o-...

  • Report this Comment On September 08, 2011, at 10:31 AM, alup wrote:

    It is great that you are telling us that the outcome might be stimulus for infrastructure projects, now where is the advice. What companies should benefit from this strategy? Give us some buy recommendations, that is what the Fool is all about.

  • Report this Comment On September 08, 2011, at 10:47 AM, drgroup wrote:

    Obama has a dismal failing past track record. He has not implemented any policy that has led to turning this economy around. What in the world makes anyone think that Obama is going to suddenly wake up and realize his past record has been a failure and change the approach he is using to dismantle our country? Obama is not going to admit he smells the coffee. His narcissistic personality will not let him. Obama is a pathological liar and as such will continue to make grandiose speeches he has no intention of fulfilling. He should take the campaign money he is taking from his progressive chums and simply not run again, or R E S I G N.

  • Report this Comment On September 08, 2011, at 10:48 AM, StoicAthos wrote:
  • Report this Comment On September 08, 2011, at 11:22 AM, TheDumbMoney wrote:

    What should Obama do?

    1) Propose at least $1 or 2 trillion in spending on immediate infrastructure spending and a new public works administration funding at obscenely low interest rates; and exempt it from all federal regulation that will otherwise prevent anything major from being started for two years, and make states exempt it from state regulations that will otherwise prevent anything major from being started for two yars). Want to know what "shovel-ready" really means? -- it means, "has acquired the bajillion permits needed to do anything, and is not likely to be sued and enjoined by a bajillion nimbies and their economically-illiterate, English-major, judicial compatriots."

    2) Combine this with at least $5 trillion combined in cuts to Social Security (eliminate caps on the taxable wage cut-off, raise eligibility age two-three years) and Medicare/Medicaid (end the idiotic giveaway policy of not negotiating with drug companies on drug prices, set reasonable limits on end-of-life spending (people can still pay for the last ten procedures that extend their lives six months themselves), refuse to cover any medical drug or procedure that is not proven to be better than a cheaper prodecure within five years of introduction of the new drug or procedure). (Better yet would be a fully public health care system, or Paul Ryan's plan, either of which would probably be cheaper and better than our current system, but neither of these things will ever happen.)

    3) To restore faith in government, ban public sector unions, which pay to elect their own bosses (unlike private sector union workers) and are almost uniformly cartels particularly in good times when everyone ignores their excesses;

    4) Get our trade agreeements through Congress, including by requiring that other countries with which we enact trade agreements have similar environmental and private-sector worker protections to those we have;

    5) Conduct an extensive cost-benefit analysis of every single federal regulation and scrap many that were enacted for political and emotional reasons; keep only those that are legitimately economically useful (for example those that resolve or mitigate a tragedy of the commons) or those that are morally-required (certain ADA regulations, and discrimination regulations, etc.).

    6) Require states that receive federal funding to have an equal or lesser levels of regulation to the federal government (allowed under 10th Amendment precedent if it's contingent on federal funding and states that refuse federal funding can do what they want);

    7) Raise all individual income taxes back to Clinton era levels, including on the middle class;

    8) Create two new tax brackets for income earned beyond $500K (40% above that level) and $1mill (50% above that level) per year;

    9) Greatly reduce corporate taxes to put us marginally below other developed countries (we are currently high);

    9A) Reduce taxes on small businesses even more;

    10) Institute Al Gore's 'lock-box' on Social Security, prevent any Congress from touching its revenues, and put all future receipts into a sovereign wealth fund that invests in stocks and bonds and anything it wants to, and managed by people who are paid by performance but are by statute barred from working for any private hedge fund or bank or financial company for five years after ending employment with such fund;

    11) Force parents who send their kids to private school to give extra subsidies to public schools, to compensate for the brain drain, in which the smartest kids and those with the most educated (typically whitest and most asian parents) are self-selected by their parents out of public school (except in "destination school districts" filled typically with white and/or asian people), after which everyone then criticizes public schools and school teachers for not doing a good job.

    12) Crack down on tax-shelters to prevent rich people from sending money to them, or crack down on any financial institution that does business at all in the United States that does this, or that helps to transfer money out of the United States to banks that do;

    13) Double the number of IRS examiners to increase tax compliance; work with local governments and Visa/Mastercard to identify all companies that are registered but that do not accept credit cards or checks, in order to crack down on the 100% chance that these companies are engaging in tax evasion.

    I could go on, but I have to go to work.

  • Report this Comment On September 08, 2011, at 11:36 AM, caltex1nomad wrote:

    Some of the best infrastructure work done in this country was done through the WPA. This would put a lot of people back to work. Put them to work on Roads, Bridges, State/Local/National Parks, Heritage Sites. A lot of structures and projects built through the WPA are still standing. I was on a sidewalk just the other day that was a WPA project and it was still intact. I hate to use the term but, this would create a Trickle Up effect to manufacturing, lodging, restaurants, etc.....I'm not a liberal or socialist but, the WPA did create some great things.

  • Report this Comment On September 08, 2011, at 12:34 PM, Safcraker wrote:

    The infrastructure could and should be paid for by enacting an energy policy that promotes natural gas as our primary fuel to power our vehicles. It cost far less than oil, which means it could be taxed more without coming close to the price of a gallon of gas. It would lower our trade deficit by reducing the billion a day we spend on foreign oil, it would create millions of new jobs, more tax base, keep our soldiers at home instead of defending our future oil needs and the list goes on. It will carry us over until the day new technology gives us something better.There are to many reasons not to do this. If fracking is unsafe, find out for sure, if it is, make it so it isn't. If it isn't harmful, pick up the ball and Run Baby Run.This is a no brainer and any Congressmen that votes against it should be hung by his whatchamacallit's.

  • Report this Comment On September 08, 2011, at 3:47 PM, tnk4800 wrote:

    http://contraryinvestor.com/mo.htm

    It's a long hard road, September 2011 issue.

    12 point plan

    Just the facts.

    Tnk4800

  • Report this Comment On September 08, 2011, at 5:38 PM, TopAustrianFool wrote:

    "Force parents who send their kids to private school to give extra subsidies to public schools, to compensate for the brain drain, in which the smartest kids and those with the most educated (typically whitest and most asian parents) are self-selected by their parents out of public school (except in "destination school districts" filled typically with white and/or asian people), after which everyone then criticizes public schools and school teachers for not doing a good job."

    They already cost more than pirvate school! Private school is about $7k/child and public is $11k/child. Why do you want more subsidies? Its like palying the 1992 Dream Team and starting with a 20 pt lead. What more do you want?

  • Report this Comment On September 08, 2011, at 5:44 PM, TopAustrianFool wrote:

    @ dumberthanafool

    14) Increase dumberthanafool taxes so that I can buy a new GM model and help AFL-CIO. Since I am a hispanic who send his kid to private school.

    According to dumberthanafool my kid being hispanic (read dumber than a white kid) decreases the quality of the private school he goes to.

  • Report this Comment On September 08, 2011, at 5:46 PM, TopAustrianFool wrote:

    "4) Get our trade agreeements through Congress, including by requiring that other countries with which we enact trade agreements have similar environmental and private-sector worker protections to those we have;"

    Yes, we should ruin their economies too. That way we can stay number one. Hey if you can't be better, sabottage others. Their going to love you.

  • Report this Comment On September 08, 2011, at 5:48 PM, TopAustrianFool wrote:

    "I could go on, but I have to go to work."

    If you job requires unbiased, critical thinking then your employer is probably better off with you posting all day long.

  • Report this Comment On September 08, 2011, at 6:27 PM, caalteam wrote:

    Regarding the comment " In cases where such modifications wouldn't work, people could rent their houses. " Why are people not get modifications? I understand not everyone qualifies, but the number of people who would and should be qualified outnumber those who are being rejected. Please check out blog.mycaal.com and mycaal.com to learn all about loan modification and how mycaal.com is one of the only companies who truly cares

  • Report this Comment On September 08, 2011, at 6:48 PM, bluebare wrote:

    So far, IMHO, only about ten percent of the FOUR TRILLION DOLLARS of stimulus, not including QEs since 2008 has been spent on activities that offer some reasonable prospect of long-term job creation. While some might argue this has been an effective holding action, I prefer to think of it as grand larcency.

    THREE HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS more will have no long-term impact whatsoever on the root causes of our fiscal crisis. Since most of the money is being wasted, I propose that from now on, since all men (and women) are created equal, all stimulus funds should be equally shared by all Americans. I calculate my family's share of the upcoming American Jobs Act and Fed Twist to amount to about $15,000. Applied retroactively, this FAIR SHARE policy would increase my family's stimulus rights to about $70,000.

    Honestly, I've had enough and do not support any program that doesn't put a large amount of cash in MY pocket.

  • Report this Comment On September 08, 2011, at 8:07 PM, TopAustrianFool wrote:

    @ truthisntstupid,

    A typo, a grammatical error? How petty...

    How many languages can you speak fluently? And I mean transcribing while you listen.

  • Report this Comment On September 08, 2011, at 9:40 PM, ynotc wrote:

    According to Mr. Housels philosophy we should load up on debt so that we can preemptively deal with some infrastructure concerns. Sounds like business as usual.

  • Report this Comment On September 09, 2011, at 5:01 AM, Zebra365 wrote:

    I run a company and I employ people. The demand for our services is increasing as are our revenues.

    We cannot add new employees because we don't know what they will cost. The federal government keeps changing the rules every few months.

    My cost of health insurance for my employees has just jumped by 38% for 2012. We have shopped several insurers and cannot get a better deal. They all cite Obamacare and all of the "free" benefits it mandates as the reason for such an increase.

    It's like watching someone who can't swim try to rescue someone who is drowning. It could turn out well but I would not bet on it.

    The things I've heard from the government in the last 24 hours tell me that they have learned nothing from experience and will continue to flail about, causing severe damage with their stupid ideas.

    So I've tabled plans to hire anyone for at least six months. I'll spend a lot to help my current employees deal with the increased load but won't hire someone new.

    Until the academic idiots (Obama, Bernanke, Geithner, who have obviously been educated beyond their intelligence) learn to swim and get their fingers out of my business, the people I might hire will stay unemployed.

  • Report this Comment On September 09, 2011, at 11:49 AM, WestBend1 wrote:

    Considering we live in the age of information and the internet makes collecting and organizing large quantities of information easy, why doesn't Congress use formal internet surveys and polls.

    It couldn't take more than a month to have business owners nationwide contribute their hiring plans, their concerns, what's keeping them from hiring people, etc.

    What taxes, deductions, credits, and the like need to be increased, reduced, or eliminated?

    I think this could get better results than calling your congressman who's only half listening, and who's going to give you a "canned" response anyway.

  • Report this Comment On September 09, 2011, at 12:26 PM, FoolSolo wrote:

    The jobs package revealed last night was a bit ho-hum. Cutting taxes for those who will actually spend the money is good, but draw a line on this somewhere so millionaires aren't getting the break. Reducing the tax burden for small business is also good, especially if the have incentives to hire more people, or at least don't layoff any more.

    But let's face it, in tough times, people stop spending and do everything they can to ride out the storm. This is especially the case now with unemployment so high, and millions of home mortgages under water.

    One of the job creation techniques that always gets overlooked is incentives to make people retire. If we help people retire they vacate jobs, which younger, hungrier workers can do. Instead of raising the retirement age and making people work till they die, let them take early retirement without penalizing their IRA or 401K.

    People with under-water mortgages aren't spending on luxuries, they're trying to survive, so let people refinance at no cost, and have the banks we bailed out write-down the mortgages to current real values. Another idea is let mortgagers that are under water bail out through short-sales and take the burden out of short-sales so people can move on.

    Sure, invest in education, that is for the future. And let's fix the infrastructure to keep us all safe and prevent any catastrophes.

    And for Pete's sake, please end the circus in Washington and make this a quick bill. We can't afford another showdown like the deficit battle in July.

  • Report this Comment On September 09, 2011, at 3:40 PM, TopAustrianFool wrote:

    "One of the job creation techniques that always gets overlooked is incentives to make people retire. If we help people retire they vacate jobs, which younger, hungrier workers can do."

    Well, think about this. You want the economy to grow so you will give someone an incentive to produce nothing. I believe that what you are suggesting would work if you assume that wealth is finite. Therefore, someone vacates a job then you can give it to someone else. But why would you want someone who is productive to vacate a job and gamble by hiring someone else that takes years to start producing.

    I don't think it would work.

    What you have to do is cut spending so that you leave as much capital out there for millionares, you and me and businesses of all sizes to be able to reallocate into new enterprises. You need to allow for capital readjustment of the economy into productive work and jobs. And if you take money away from people by taxing then in this climate of uncertainty people will not invest, they will save. But since the Fed keeps interest rates so low, people save by buying commodities and bonds.

  • Report this Comment On September 09, 2011, at 3:44 PM, TopAustrianFool wrote:

    "so let people refinance at no cost, and have the banks we bailed out write-down the mortgages to current real values"

    I don't think you realize the proportions of the economic problem we are in.

    The money is not there. If you allow write-downs of everyone who is underwater, then all of the major banks and Fannie and Freddie would go bankrupt. The wealth of those years past was squandered during the boom and now there is no money to fix this.

  • Report this Comment On September 09, 2011, at 3:50 PM, TopAustrianFool wrote:

    "We can't afford another showdown like the deficit battle in July."

    We can't afford anything, anymore.

  • Report this Comment On September 09, 2011, at 8:45 PM, Joe4IZ wrote:

    Tarriffs, tarriffs and tarriffs.

    We are no longer a country that manufactorers merchandise. We import it all. Tarriffs will give US companies a chance to compete. No one says we have to get involved in a trade war, but we are on the short end of the stick on almost all trade issues. This would be good for main street but not good for Wall Street.

    Secondly, training people takes time. Even if they have the desire and wherewithall financially to go thru training; some do not have the time and the skill set will change after a couple of years.

    Call centers, and other items outsourced to countries like India should be penalized for moving their jobs to those countries. While this may all sound xenophobic, it is just common sense that dictates the wages paid in other countries.

    I used to think the old adage ; " a rising tide lifts all boats " was true. Now I see the rest of the world is pulling us down to their level.

  • Report this Comment On September 09, 2011, at 9:08 PM, VOLCANOPUKER wrote:

    Obviously from the comments posted...

    stupid doesn't hurt... but learning does.

  • Report this Comment On September 09, 2011, at 9:35 PM, richardrollo wrote:

    I'm surprised that so many of your experts are proposing the same old same old. Or maybe not. I don't have a Nobel Prize nor am I an Economist (although I did take Money and Banking in College) and I am not beguiled by slope of the line Economics. But, I was telling my American Government classes back 20 years ago that fiscal Keynesianism wouldn't work in the modern global economy because you can't stimulate the American economy in isolation anymore. And, unlike the 1930's, when a project calls for a trench, you don't go out and hire 50 pick and shovel laborers to dig it. You hire a backhoe which employes the driver and the flagman. Our economists seem to be waiting to climb into their Hudsons and drive home and are looking forward to listening to Jack Benny on the radio. Sorry.

  • Report this Comment On September 09, 2011, at 9:48 PM, richardrollo wrote:

    Ahhh! employes=employs.

  • Report this Comment On September 09, 2011, at 10:21 PM, whereaminow wrote:

    How much do classes cost at the Khan Academy? $0. The University of the People? $0 And a great deal of what is online are far better lessons and environment that what is offered in public prisons (or public day care centers, depending on how mean you want to be.) You could teach special needs students at a miniscule fraction of the public education budget, and to heck with the rest of the teachers and schools. And please don't demand that I pay for the continuation of this outdated model of education, especially when I am dedicated to home schooling.

    Back to the topic at hand.

    Does anybody know what caused the panic of 1857? Anyone? Inflationary bank credit. President Buchanan, being a little more knowledgeable on monetary issues than our current Romney-to-Hillary mainstream, noted that excessive bank credit had led to a rise in prices and then a crash.

    Does anybody know what Buchanan did to create jobs in this depressed economy? Anybody? Nothing. He did nothing.

    Does anybody know how long it took for the economy to recover? 4 years? 10 years? Nope. 6 months.

    Does anybody know what caused the panic of 1921? Anybody? If you guessed inflationary bank credit, go to the front of the class.

    Does anybody know what Harding did to create jobs? That's right. Again, nothing.

    Does anybody know how long it took the economy to recover? 18 months. We'd take that. Harding even cut federal spending!

    Almost done. Bear with me, now. You're going to learn something that is outside the realm of accepted thought.

    Does anybody know what caused the panics of 1819 and 1837? Inflationary bank credit, yes, that's correct. Only in these two instances, a central bank, the Second Bank of the United States had been the culprit. First, in 1819 the crash followed a couple years of inflation the bank created to... listen up now.. pay for a foolish war. Hmmm. The 1837 panic followed the closing of that same bank after their charter (to inflate) was no longer renewed.

    I bet you know by now that neither sitting President did a darn thing to create jobs. And I bet you know by now that both times the economy recovered very quickly. Notice a trend yet?

    Last two. This is where it gets important.

    Does anybody know what caused the crash of 1929? If you said "animal spirits" or "the free market", slap yourself across the face. The answer, as usual, was inflationary bank credit. Now, how did Hoover and FDR handle that downturn. Both were hyperinterventionists (though Hoover is falsely claimed to be a liquidationist, in fact, that's how you know you're debate opponent is ignorant, if he repeats that claim.)

    How long did it take the economy to recover? 18 years and a World War. The economy did not fully recover until 1947.

    Last one.

    What caused the crash of 2008? What was the response by our President(s) (Bush included)?

    And now, how long do you think this one will last?

    David in Qatar

  • Report this Comment On September 09, 2011, at 10:37 PM, whereaminow wrote:

    lol, you're = your (before the you're/your police descend upon me!) and a few other typos. You get the idea, though. Well, unless you're a zombie ;)

    David in Qatar

  • Report this Comment On September 10, 2011, at 1:16 AM, piinob wrote:

    I think the solution to our problems as a country lie in converting our transportation system from liquid fuel to Natural Gas. Millions of jobs would be created building new pipelines, new filling stations, drilling and servicing wells, converting vehicles, and all the other things involved with such an undertaking. The first benefit would be keeping billions of dollars in this country instead of sending them overseas. The next would be the end of our need to send our military around the world to defend oils rich countrys who just don't want us there. Fuel prices would drop which would help the developing countrys economys. The countrys like Iran who depend on Oil revenues and American presence to maintain their own agendas would be forced to come up with a new plan. Natural gas is a much cleaner burning fuel and can also be used in fuel cells so the "Greens" get something too. I think it would be a win win for all concerned. The transition would take quite a while here, and longer in the rest of the world so the big oil companys would have markets for many years to come.

    Along with this we still need to revamp our tax codes and simplify/reduce our Corporate tax structure. Lowering the tax rate for corporations while doing away aith the complex system which allows 60% of all corporations doing business here must stop. Some form of flat tax would be ideal if it were well thought out and implemented.

    If a company is having trouble finding qualified folks to work then they should impliment an in house training program. The power Generation industry has had to do this for as long as they have existed. we hire folks off the street, and have to train them, over several years. It motivates employers to pay workers well and try to hold on to them.

  • Report this Comment On September 10, 2011, at 1:31 AM, piinob wrote:

    CORRECTION to second paragraph above.

    Along with this we still need to revamp our tax codes and simplify/reduce our Corporate tax structure. Lowering the tax rate for corporations while doing away with the complex system which allows 60% of all corporations doing business here to avoid taxes altogether must stop. Some form of flat tax would be ideal if it were well thought out and implemented.

    Sorry for the error.

  • Report this Comment On September 10, 2011, at 8:28 AM, TopAustrianFool wrote:

    @dumberthanafool,

    Oh, I know you did not mean that. No need to apologize. The problem is that whether you meant it or not, your policy would be the same.

    "Statistically, it is quite true that whites and asians have higher levels of income and education,"

    I disagree. Asians do not have higher income levels. Most Asians doing well in school are 2nd generation, and their parents still do lower paying jobs. The reason they excel is that there are much less handout for Asians. They do not have yet the huge lobbying organizations that hispanics and blacks have.

    I do believe that a lot of what you mentioned have to do with parents education, discipline and time with their kids. Being that you do mentioned that some work a couple of jobs.

    Public or private is a very personal decision. One of the reasons my child is in private is accountability. Private schools tend to respond faster to my requests. They keep better discipline and your kid is not just another number. Remember discipline in the classroom is necessary before the kids can learn. If they do not feel their environment is safe they will never relax enough to be able to learn. I have seen this. Public schools have a lot of beaurocracy which put the teacher in danger if he is seen as exercising to "excessive" discipline. This is typical of governent. Your job is always at risk because there are so many rules and regulations you don't know what to do. Regulatory paralisis.

    1) Way too much money for roads and bridges. We don't need a ton of money to fix these things all at once. In govt if you have too much money you have to spend it before you have time to performe the work. So it will be a huge waste of money.

    2) All you need to do with SS is raise the benefit age to 72yrs for people who are 35-45 yrs. And to to 74yrs to people 35 yrs or less. That is me, by the way, I am younger than 35yrs-old. That will induce more saving and investing. Take care of yourself.

    Most of your ideas are basically to reform Central Planning. The USSR was constantly reforming their Central Planning apparatus for 80yrs. And look what happend.

  • Report this Comment On September 10, 2011, at 8:29 AM, TopAustrianFool wrote:

    @Joe4IZ

    All tariffs do is increase the prices to you and me. Its a tax on us. So if it it cheaper to make it in China then it will be cheaper at Walmart.

  • Report this Comment On September 10, 2011, at 8:38 AM, TopAustrianFool wrote:

    @whereaminow

    Most people have no clue about credit expansion, malinvestment, capital restructuring, and depressions. Most people think that the only depression is the Great Depression and even worse, they believe it was fixed by the spending and regulating of the New Deal. Its sad, but even today; implementing the New Deal policies is failing, and yet people still want more. If you do nothing it will resolve itself in 12 to 16 months. After 4yrs we are still in it, and if govt continues to intervene we will be here for 20 yrs.

  • Report this Comment On September 10, 2011, at 10:10 AM, whereaminow wrote:

    @TopAustrianFool,

    The Intellectuals won the battle, but they did not win the war. These prosititutes for the regime are going down.

    David in Qatar

  • Report this Comment On September 11, 2011, at 12:10 AM, mcrunch2 wrote:

    axe obamacare and end the uncertainty which will rebuild confidence. not only that, but it will give doctors more time to be doctors instead of govt agents (collecting data, etc.)

  • Report this Comment On September 11, 2011, at 12:13 AM, mcrunch2 wrote:

    Note to self: never read another article by Moscovitz or Dumortier again - waste of time, not to mention $.

  • Report this Comment On September 11, 2011, at 12:10 PM, nevertoomuch wrote:

    Considering that a minute amount of the population owns most of the wealth of this county, it seems apparent to me the damage is done. Greed is greed and the richest aren't giving up anything. Watching money move to the middle east and asia made me realize we're fighting over a smaller and smaller piece of the pie. Call it obamacare or MIttcare, whatever, it's like squabbling over breadcrumbs.

    We need leaders, not politicians.

    A respectable business man/woman or two, would help.

  • Report this Comment On September 13, 2011, at 5:30 PM, DrDoom1929 wrote:

    There are rumours that global monetary authorities are looking at placing currency conversion restrictions on "fiat gold" and possibly other precious metals, so that the price reflects its industrial value and stops the fund leakage out of the global monetary system.Obama should fully support this decision and avoid the massive inflation that would be caused by "fiat gold" backed bonds or currencies.This could undermine the US's reserve currency status if commodities are priced based on these "fiat gold" backed instruments.Oil prices could climb 25% or more,and that would decimate any budgetary measures. Venezuala it appears, is certainly positioning to create such a move, considering that is transporting its actual "fiat gold" reserves back to within its borders. A small news item that may magnify into full scale disaster.At the same time, we wonder if "fiat gold" really has any value?

    www.firstfinancialinsights.blogspot.com

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