‘The immediate crisis is jobs’

‘THE IMMEDIATE CRISIS IS JOBS’…. It’s nice that someone has noticed.

A coalition of liberal groups Thursday will call for the Obama administration to put out a detailed plan to create jobs and urge both parties to stop focusing so much on the federal budget deficit.

At a conference dubbed the “Summit on Jobs and America’s Future,” liberal leaders such as AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka, U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa plan to speak about the continued high unemployment rate and urge more government spending to reduce it.

“Washington is focused on draconian cuts that will hurt the recovery,” said Roger Hickey, head of the liberal group the Campaign for America’s Future, which is sponsoring the conference. “The immediate crisis is jobs.”

That this rhetoric is necessary is discouraging. That it’s rare is frustrating. That it’s going to prove unpersuasive is disheartening.

But I’m glad to hear it anyway, if only to serve as a reminder, no matter how faint, that there’s an alternative to cutting a little and cutting a lot.

The thrust of the message here seems focused on the White House. The activists want the president to present an ambitious jobs agenda, even if it stands no chance of passing Congress.

I can appreciate the reasoning for this — let congressional Republicans kill a jobs bill, and then hold it against them — but I might suggest directing energies elsewhere. The White House, its faults notwithstanding, isn’t the problem, and administration officials aren’t the ones who need convincing.

The forces opposed to a jobs agenda are congressional Republicans, who think the country will benefit from higher unemployment; a few too many congressional Democrats, who think they’ll lose their jobs unless they fight to take money out of the economy; a media establishment, which only considers “serious” those who toe the conservative line; and a few too many voters, who’ve been convinced that a long-term fiscal problem is far more important than a short-term jobs crisis.

If it were me, I’d invest less energy in lobbying a White House that already agrees, and more in generating public demand for a progressive agenda. I might even go around every day asking when congressional Republicans will stop talking about abortion and Muslims, and start talking about creating jobs.