O.K., about the Obama plan: It calls for about $200 billion in new spending — much of it on things we need in any case, like school repair, transportation networks, and avoiding teacher layoffs — and $240 billion in tax cuts. That may sound like a lot, but it actually isn’t. The lingering effects of the housing bust and the overhang of household debt from the bubble years are creating a roughly $1 trillion per year hole in the U.S. economy, and this plan — which wouldn’t deliver all its benefits in the first year — would fill only part of that hole. And it’s unclear, in particular, how effective the tax cuts would be at boosting spending.
Still, the plan would be a lot better than nothing, and some of its measures, which are specifically aimed at providing incentives for hiring, might produce relatively a large employment bang for the buck. As I said, it’s much bolder and better than I expected. President Obama’s hair may not be on fire, but it’s definitely smoking; clearly and gratifyingly, he does grasp how desperate the jobs situation is.
But his plan isn’t likely to become law, thanks to Republican opposition. And it’s worth noting just how much that opposition has hardened over time, even as the plight of the unemployed has worsened.
[…] leading Republicans are basically against anything that might help the unemployed. Yes, Mr. Romney has issued a glossy, well-produced “jobs plan,” but it might best be described as 59 bullet points with nothing there — and certainly nothing to justify his assertion, bordering on megalomania, that he would create no fewer than 11 million jobs in four years.
The good news in all this is that by going bigger and bolder than expected, Mr. Obama may finally have set the stage for a political debate about job creation. For, in the end, nothing will be done until the American people demand action.
During an interview with White House press secretary Jay Carney, Bill O’Reilly criticized President Obama for using investor Warren Buffett as an example of the unfairness in the tax code. Obama, in his speech on jobs before a joint session of Congress, said that “Warren Buffet pays a lower tax rate than his secretary — an outrage he has asked us to fix.” O’Reilly took exception that remark, suggesting that it was an “apples to oranges” comparison because Buffett pays mostly capital gains taxes while his secretary likely pays mostly income tax.
His criticism is off base. Taxes on “capital gains” are taxes on income derived from capital, as opposed to income derived from labor. Both capital gains taxes and income taxes are taxes on income. O’Reilly is wrong to suggest Buffett and the president are being misleading or unfair.
O’Reilly and the rest of Fox “News,” and radio entertainers like Limbaugh, count on their audience to be of the “low information” variety. They even have a club: