Two for the Price of One Equals None

09/13/2010 09:54 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Amitai Etzioni Professor of international relations, George Washington University

One cannot but respect President Obama for heeding his inner voice, come what may. It may be disastrous politics and cost the Democrats and the country dearly, but people claim that they want a public leader who does not mind the public opinion polls. Well they got one, with a vengeance.

One of Obama's core ideas was and is that he can get two for the price of one. Thus, in composing the original stimulus bill he did not go for those outlays that would stimulate the economy most quickly and those that would create most jobs -- but for projects that would make us better in the long run, as well as have some stimulating effect. For instance, fixing the infrastructure. For example, increasing the expenditure on research. And making the economy greener.

Here he goes again. Having finally decided -- better late than never -- that the country needs more stimulus, he goes again for the long run: more money for infrastructure projects that take years to get rolling and generate relatively few jobs but that the country surely needs. And more investment in research and development, which takes even longer to pay off, but pays off handsomely when it finally kicks in.

Nor does the president give up on his notion that he can get the GOP to play ball. Thus, the new proposals call for tax deductions for corporations, despite the fact that businesses have already found numerous ways to evade paying most taxes due, in the vain hope that this could maybe, possibly -- this time -- win the GOP support. Providing funds for those unemployed to enroll in community colleges for retraining and hiring them to carry out public jobs (via the states) would not face much more GOP opposition but would have gone a much longer way toward reducing unemployment.

In short, in this case at least the vox populi has it right. These tax cuts will not do much of anything. We may hence salute our president's integrity and cry for those without work, their families, and all those who would have more work and income if the economy did not continue to be in such an anemic state. Cry for America.