A one-sided fight over jobs

A ONE-SIDED FIGHT OVER JOBS…. At the White House press conference this morning, Fox News correspondent Mike Emanuel asked a good question.

“The number one concern for many Americans right now is jobs,” Emanuel noted. “Taking a look at your budget, there are tax hikes proposed for energy, for higher-income people and also for replenishing the state unemployment funds. Do you worry about the impact on jobs, sir?”

Now, it seemed a little ironic that a question about jobs would come from the Republican network, just as the GOP decided jobs no longer matter. For that matter, the notion that tax hikes necessarily undermine job growth is patently absurd. But given how little talk there is about jobs this week, I was glad to hear the question anyway.

For his part, President Obama responded:

“Well, actually, if you look at that budget, there’s a whole bunch of stuff in there for job creation. I think some folks noted, for example, our infrastructure proposals, which would create millions of jobs around the country. Our investments in research and development and clean energy have the potential for creating job growth in, you know, industries of the future.

“You know, my belief that the high-end tax cuts — or the Bush tax cuts for the high end of the population, folks like me — my belief is that that doesn’t in any way impede job growth. And most economists agree.”

Obama’s response has the added benefit of being true. USA Today had a good report on this today.

President Obama’s proposed fiscal 2012 budget is potentially a massive job-creation engine, with plans to generate millions of them by repairing and expanding highways, bridges and railways. […]

The plan calls for $53 billion to build a high-speed rail system, $336 billion for highways and a “national infrastructure bank” that would combine public and private money to build national or regional transportation systems.

Associated General Contractors (AGC), a trade group for the construction industry, estimates the plan could create about 5.4 million construction jobs and 10 million more jobs in related industries and the broader economy.

Given how little Republicans now care about job creation, it’s likely the job-creation efforts in the White House’s budget plan will be eliminated entirely.

But the point is, someone is still focusing on the jobs crisis — which, the last time I checked, remained the top issue of concern for most Americans — and it’s not the guy who said “so be it” when told his budget plan would force thousands of Americans from their jobs.

I’d hoped at this point we’d see a credible debate underway between two competing visions on how to create jobs. As of this week, only one vision showed up.