Early this morning, President Obama’s aides announced that he would give a “major speech” on job creation…after Labor Day. Needless to say, there’s something odd about announcing yet another speech so far ahead of time, but it seems that Obama wanted to signal two things in particular. The first is that he will pressure the super committee created by the debt ceiling deal to both increase the level of debt reduction and implement near-term stimulus measures. The second is that the speech will outline new job-creating proposals that he hasn’t already pushed for.
Now, the most recent suggestions Obama has made for creating jobs — an infrastructure bank, small business tax cuts, and re-upping the payroll tax cuts and unemployment insurance extensions — haven’t been terrible. Or, at least, the tax cuts are not horrible ideas. The infrastructure bank is.
Furthermore, from a liberal perspective, the problems afflicting the economy are do not require new ideas. They are all part of one larger phenomenon, namely a shortfall of aggregate demand. Any plan intended to increase aggregate demand is a good one, whether or not it’s new. Tax cuts, unemployment insurance, infrastructure spending, food stamps — it doesn’t matter. Whatever gets money into the economy should make things better.
So it’s not obvious what new plans Obama has in mind. One likely possibility is that they really won’t be new, just slightly different from what he’s proposed before. Another is that he could start using administrative branch tools for spending, perhaps by stimulating the housing market through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Or, conceivably, he could propose the kinds of longer-term reform measures that Republicans have, such as broad tax reform.
That last option isn’t very likely at all. But if Obama really does intend to talk about something new, it could be a Republican idea, because he seems to be running out of his own.