So How Would You Kick-Start The Economy?
The Associated Press asked people around the country to share their ideas on jump-starting the economy. Some responses:
More stimulus: Carolyn Morrison is a Wake County, N.C., school board member who has spent more than 45 years in education. The public school she attended as a child in Lumberton, N.C., was built by President Franklin Roosevelt's Depression-era Works Progress Administration. She wants more spending like that.
"Thinking back to Roosevelt and other presidents who faced this problem, I guess the stimulus package would be the closest to giving jobs as anything."
Amen to that: John Jennings, 56, of Charlotte, N.C., runs a nonprofit group that houses up to 18 ex-convicts re-entering society. He, too, wants another stimulus package.
"I understand the deficit, and I know we're trillions of dollars in debt and all that. But I feel like the only way we're going be able to come out of this is to invest into it."
Fairer pay: Jermaine Wilkinson, 32, of Mauldin, S.C., is an operations engineer at Lockheed Martin in Greenville, S.C., where the company refurbishes Navy aircraft. He says the government should make companies narrow the gap between pay for CEOs and average workers.
"Companies are saving money, but the money they're saving is going into the CEO's pocket or the upper management, board of directors, those type of people. If you start putting those savings into the ones who are actually doing the work. ... I believe they'll go out and spend money. They won't be hesitant."
Renew infrastructure: Ross Capon, executive director of the National Association of Railroad Passengers, says infrastructure projects make the U.S. more competitive in the future and create jobs now. He points to the aging Lincoln and Holland traffic tunnels connecting New York and New Jersey as examples of needed renewal.
"We're living off our grandfathers' investments. The whole issue of neglect of infrastructure is a serious problem. It's not limited to transportation."
Keep jobs here: If there's any doubt autoworking is in his blood, the proof is in his name. Henry Ford Anderson, 62, is a retired auto industry worker – for Chrysler – who commented from a dog-racing track in Wheeling, W.Va. He wants the government to control outsourcing.
"We can always create jobs. Technical jobs are created every day, but where do they go when you create them? We have to bring them back. The president has to tell all of the Fortune 500 to stop holding the economy down. Just look at how they are getting rich. He has to clamp down on them, but he's in a no-win situation because all they will do is take the jobs to another country."
Going global: Paul Hanrahan, chairman of AES Corp., a power company based in Arlington, Va., with operations in 30 countries and 40 percent of its revenue from the U.S., says international business is key to U.S. growth.
"The way we create jobs is by taking advantage of expanding markets. Where we expand into a new market, there are jobs created in the U.S. I think we need to keep that in mind, that investment overseas is also something that benefits U.S. companies."
Tax holiday: Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, says that if the economy looked like it was going to slip into another recession, Congress should exempt employers from the payroll tax for three months, among other steps. Small businesses are usually the engine of hiring during recoveries but not, so far, this time. A tax holiday would temporarily lower the cost of hiring and serve as an incentive to companies of all size, he says.
"Hopefully, that would convince people to get off the dime and hire people and get the recovery moving," Zandi said. "The key impediment to the economy is businesses' reluctance to hire."
Tax cuts: Brian Bethune, economist at IHS Global Insight, proposes extending the Bush-era tax cuts for everyone, making them permanent for people of lower and middle income and phasing them out for the wealthy after a year or two. Like Zandi, he thinks the recovery is too fragile now to let taxes go up on anyone. Not that tax cuts would solve everything.
"There is no big silver bullet."
A compromise has been slowly taking shape in Washington that would extend the tax cuts temporarily for all income groups, perhaps for three years.
Amen to tax cuts: Fabrizio Santoro, 37, a real estate investor from Miami Beach, Fla., said lower capital gains and other taxes are the way to spur employment and growth. "The only way to kick-start the economy is through businesses. And you've got to entice businessmen to do business. It all comes down to taxes."
Stay on course: Ann Fields, 48, of Dallas, writes novels, magazine articles and freelance pieces, and founded a group for African-American writers. Self-employed, she counsels patience.
"I don't think people realize how close we came to a depression. I think the steps the president and Congress took averted that. I'm willing to be patient. I know change doesn't happen overnight. As long as they provide the small business support they've been talking about recently, I'm good."
She added, chuckling, I won't move to Canada."
Contributing to this report were AP writers Jeannine Aversa and Joan Lowy in Washington; Linda Stewart Ball in Dallas; Emery P. Dalesio in Raleigh, N.C.; Ben Dobbin in Rochester, N.Y.; Matt Sedensky in Miami; Erica Werner in Mumbai, India; and Corey Williams in Detroit.