‘Jobs, jobs, jobs’

‘JOBS, JOBS, JOBS’…. If Democratic policymakers want to focus their energies on creating jobs, I’m delighted.

“It’s another wake-up call,” said Rep. Tom Perriello of Virginia, who is one of about 40 House Democrats facing tough re-election battles this year. “We’ve got to be about jobs, jobs, jobs.”

There’s a lot of this going around.

So what’s next for the Senate? Leaders and rank and file members say: Jobs, jobs, jobs.

“The country is speaking to us, and we will show we hear them in the agenda we pursue over the next year,” reads a statement from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to TPMDC. “Our focus must be on jobs, the economy and delivering for the middle class.”

It’s been going around for a while, too. There was this item from November:

Rep. Bob Etheridge (D), a centrist contemplating a run for Senate in North Carolina, helped Democratic leaders in the summer by voting for climate change legislation on the House floor.

He now wants Democratic leaders to narrow their focus on jobs and the economy. “Three things ought to be the top priority: jobs, jobs and jobs,” he said.

Sounds good, right? Unemployment is, to a very real extent, at the heart of public discontent. It also undermines the economy, weakens businesses, strains families, hurts communities, etc.

But while “prioritizing” and “focusing on” job creation is obviously a worthwhile goal, the problem policymakers tend to downplay is that these job-creating efforts aren’t free.

With Dems afraid of their own shadow right now, they’re overly cautious about taking any prudent steps. They could invest in infrastructure and struggling states, but then a little voice in their head says, “You know, the public is against more government spending right now.” They could pass a jobs bill through deficit financing, but the same whispered voice says, “No, the public has decided it doesn’t like deficits anymore.” They could raise taxes to pay for more money on public investment bills that would create jobs, but the voice starts screaming, “Tax increases are out of the question.”

So, sure, “jobs, jobs, jobs” is a nice sentiment. When policymakers figure out how to pursue this admirable goal with an effective plan that doesn’t increase spending, raise taxes, or increase the deficit, I’ll be very impressed.