On December 3, there was a White House "Jobs Summit" to hear ideas for creating jobs to replace the 8.5 million jobs lost during the recession. There were very few ideas submitted for increasing U.S. manufacturing business with its proven good, secure long- term jobs.
Instead, the proposals were mostly similar 5 point programs calling for heavy deficit spending for extended unemployment compensation, repair of the infrastructure, tax credits for hiring, and aid to state governments to retain public service employees -- all worthy causes, but not answering the need to provide good long-term employment security.
The latest idea suggested by President Obama is export expansion. He was echoed by Fred Bergsten, head of the Peterson Economic Institute this week, who suggested that every billion dollars of added export sales would create about 7,000 jobs. But does he realize that there are many strong exporting nations that are also experiencing economic difficulties and will be competing hard for the same business? We have no special advantage there, and are at a sharp disadvantage to low-wage countries, especially China. Realistically, exports are not likely to be a big answer for the U.S.!
Instead of wishful long-shot ideas, we should be turning to opportunities where the U.S. controls the situation, can move unilaterally at it's own pace, and where we have clear-cut competitive advantages. Is there a big jobs opportunity that meets those objectives, and is it affordable? The answer is a definite "Yes" on both counts! In fact, several HuffPost bloggers have been writing about it for many months.
The answer lies in our own huge U.S. domestic market. Through many years of weak trade policies we've gone from modest trade surpluses with other countries to being the only industrial nation that imports more than we export! Our trade deficit averaged $700 billion dollars per year for the 5 year period from 2004-2008 -- a total of $3.5 trillion! That's lost business for U.S. producers that could have provided millions of good jobs.
What should we do about it? We don't have to become "protectionist!" We would adopt a policy for balanced trade in the U.S. market. Draft legislation has been written, but is not even being discussed in Washington now. If enacted, it would shift as much as 300 billion dollars of production annually to the U.S., over a two or three year period to avoid any market disruption. Using Mr. Bergsten's figure of 7,000 jobs for every billion dollars of sales, that would create more than 2 million jobs! Perhaps best of all, there wouldn't be any deficit spending needed. The law would be self-financing through small fees required for import certificates. WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR?