In President-elect Barack Obama’s major economic address today, he laid out one dozen key planks of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, including initiatives to:
1. “double the production of alternative energy in the next three years”
2. “modernize more than 75 percent of federal buildings and improve the energy efficiency of 2 million American homes”
3. “[create] jobs building solar panels and wind turbines, constructing fuel-efficient cars and buildings, and developing the new energy technologies that will lead to even more jobs”
4. “make the immediate investments necessary to ensure that within five years all of America’s medical records are computerized [to] save billions of dollars and thousands of jobs”
5. “equip tens of thousands of schools, community colleges and public universities with 21st-century classrooms, labs and libraries”
6. “put people to work repairing crumbling roads, bridges and schools”
7. “starting to build a new smart grid that will save us money, protect our power sources from blackout or attack, and deliver clean, alternative forms of energy to every corner of our nation.”
8. “expand broadband lines across America so that a small business in a rural town can connect and compete with their counterparts anywhere in the world”
9. “invest in the science, research and technology that will lead to new medical breakthroughs, new discoveries, and entire new industries.”
10. “[give] 95 percent of working families will receive a thousand-dollar tax cut”
11. “continue the bipartisan extension of unemployment insurance and health-care coverage”
12. “help struggling states avoid harmful budget cuts”
Meanwhile, the widespread criticism that such tax breaks would be ineffective at healing the economy appears to have taken root among key congresspeople, raising the likelihood that business tax cuts won’t be part of the final bill.
I can’t fully predict that business tax cuts will get stiff-armed by Congress. But it is clear from today’s speech that business tax cuts are not the centerpiece of Obama’s plan. The centerpieces are major public investment in America’s foundation, tax cuts for working families and aid for squeezed state governments.
Even if business tax cuts end up in the final package, they will not negate all of those positive components, so crucial to mitigate the pain of recession in the short-term and to put America on a sustainable path in the long-run.
So keep pushing against ineffective business tax breaks, but also push for swift passage of the overall American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan.
Because every day of delay limits our ability to blunt the impact of the already 13-month long recession. And we need jobs now.