Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Obama talks job creation in Durham

The President breezed through Durham on Monday, talking about new ways to promote job creation.  According to the N&O, Obama said, "The sky is not falling."  Obama met with his Jobs and Competitiveness Council to get their perspective.  Two of its members (GE CEO Jeff Immelt and AmEx CEO Ken Chenault) posted the Council's findings to date in a Monday WSJ op-ed.  Among the ideas being offered:
  • Quickly form partnerships between the private sector and community colleges to make sure training programs match today's hiring needs
  • Eliminate red tape that delays construction and infrastructure projects
  • Streamline the tourist visa process so that foreigners can come here to take advantage of the dollar depreciation and shop til they drop
  • Make small business loans more readily available
  • Change the tax code to make it profitable to do energy efficiency retrofits
Hard to see how any of this would make a big dent in our current unemployment rate of 9%.  On the training front, there has been a perpetual mismatch between employer demand and vocational school/community college supply.  The schools are highly decentralized and need time to develop new programs.  Much of the red tape is dictated by state and local governments, an area where Obama and the Council have little leverage.  More tourist visas would help, but the big boost in job creation would come from allowing more highly skilled immigrants to locate in the US (make them buy a home, too).  The Small Business Administration is but a small part of the credit markets in the US; as long as banks are not lending to small and medium sized businesses, we have big trouble.  And do we really need more tax gimmicks to get companies to commit acts that are otherwise economically irrational? 

To be fair, these are meant to be quick fixes; the Council will issue some recommendations for longer term growth in September.   In the meanwhile, Mr. President, I suggest you not put all of your re-election eggs in this basket. 

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