The leading Republican presidential candidates have crafted and released their plans to create jobs. This allows for a side-by-side policy analysis on what is likely to be a top issue in the 2012 campaign.
The three candidates largely focus on ways to unfetter business rather than have government take a direct hand in creating jobs. In fact, a cynic might conclude that the plans — especially Gov. Perry’s — merely masquerade as strategies for creating jobs and in fact use the stubbornly high unemployment rate as an excuse to grant big business its wish list.
These plans contrast sharply with President Barack Obama’s jobs proposal, which is now languishing in Congress.
The president’s strategy, which undoubtedly would create jobs soon, is based on proven Keynesian economics — the only player left with enough ammunition to stimulate the economy is the federal government. The president’s bill would inject money into infrastructure work such as roads, bridges, rail lines and schools; expand the payroll tax cut, which would put about $1,500 more into a typical family’s budget; create incentives for small businesses to hire through next year and reconfigure the unemployment insurance program to help those out of work to transition into new fields.
Even though the president plans to pay for the $447 billion plan through spending cuts, to fiscal conservatives, it must feel like paying a few hundred dollars to have a rotten tooth pulled.
In their plans, the Republican front-runners sound familiar GOP themes: lower taxes, fewer regulations and less power for the federal government.
The highlight of Mr. Romney’s plan is to reduce the corporate income tax rate to 25 percent. Currently, it ranges from 34 percent for taxable income between $75,000 and $100,000 to 39 percent for taxable income up to $335,000. There is little evidence, though, that lower taxes on those businesses with taxable income — that is, after they take various deductions — will stimulate immediate job creation.
Mr. Romney also wants to ease government regulations by eliminating new regulations enacted under the Obama administration. Again, there is no evidence that easing regulations creates jobs. The former Massachusetts governor, whose health care plan for that state was the model of the Obama administration’s health care law, also wants to repeal Obamacare to spur job growth. It’s hard to see a connection between letting insurance companies deny people with preexisting conditions and new jobs.
The Romney jobs plan also calls for expedited energy extraction permits, which is also part of Gov. Perry’s jobs plan. In fact, letting oil and natural gas speculators loose on the landscape is the entire thrust of the Texas governor’s jobs plan. While more homegrown fuels would likely lower energy prices slightly and keep those dollars circulating domestically, it would not produce jobs in the short term.
In addition, the Perry jobs plan would dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency and ban laws that punish carbon-producers.
Pizza entrepreneur Cain’s plan is branded as “9-9-9.” He proposes flat business and individual income tax rates of 9 percent and a 9 percent national sales tax. Businesses like Mr. Cain’s would make out great; others, not so much.
A Republican president might well make the case that easing regulation and corporate taxes and boosting domestic energy production is good for the nation in the long term. But each plan’s lack of connection to job creation in the short term is, essentially, an endorsement of the president’s jobs plan.