Upping the ante

UPPING THE ANTE…. It wasn’t too long ago that Barack Obama was talking about an economic rescue plan that would save or create 1 million jobs. By Thanksgiving, the number was in upwards of 2.5 million. Shortly before Christmas, the target was 3 million. As of this morning, it’s a plan that may create as many as 4 million.

In his weekly radio/video address, Obama explained, “I asked my nominee for Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, Dr. Christina Romer, and the Vice President-Elect’s Chief Economic Adviser, Dr. Jared Bernstein, to conduct a rigorous analysis of this plan and come up with projections of how many jobs it will create – and what kind of jobs they will be. Today, I am releasing a report of their findings so that the American people can see exactly what this plan will mean for their families, their communities, and our economy.

“The report confirms that our plan will likely save or create three to four million jobs. 90 percent of these jobs will be created in the private sector — the remaining 10 percent are mainly public sector jobs we save, like the teachers, police officers, firefighters and others who provide vital services in our communities.

“The jobs we create will be in businesses large and small across a wide range of industries. And they’ll be the kind of jobs that don’t just put people to work in the short term, but position our economy to lead the world in the long-term.”

The report (pdf) is online.

Mike Allen noted the document addresses the tax-cut question — tax cuts are a weak stimulus, compared to direct government spending — and acknowledges that tax breaks “are likely to create fewer jobs” than infrastructure investments. The report suggests, however, that the incoming administration has no choice but to pursue a variety of stimulus options.

“[B]ecause there is a limit on how much government investment can be carried out efficiently in a short time frame, and because tax cuts and state relief can be implemented quickly, they are crucial elements of any package aimed at easing economic distress quickly,” the report says.

All of this comes, of course, just a day after we learned that the economy shed 524,000 jobs in December, and 2.6 million jobs in all of 2008.