The President called for increased infrastructure spending in his speech last night, pointing to the many construction workers who are currently unemployed and, among other things, the need for upgraded schools. It's unclear how much of his $447-billion jobs bill would go toward this objective. But the argument for investing in infrastructure and investing now is strong. Here's the Washington Post's Ezra Klein:
Because of the recession, construction materials are cheap. So, too, is the labor. And your borrowing costs? They've never been lower. That means a dollar of investment today will go much further than it would have five years ago -- or is likely to go five years from now. So what do you do?
Invest! I should reveal that Ezra made this recommendation almost a year ago, when the yield on the 10-year Treasury note was a 2.7 percent — quite a bit higher than today, when the yield fell to a record 1.89 percent before edging up to 1.93 percent.
The Solyndra bankruptcy has taken a vaguely criminal turn, as the FBI in recent days has raided the company's Fremont, Calif. headquarters and paid a visit to the homes of the CEO and founder. Opponents of President Obama's enthusiasm for green jobs have seized on Solyndra's woes as evidence that alt.energy is an economic bust. This is from the LA Times:
"The FBI raid further underscores that Solyndra was a bad bet from the beginning and put taxpayers at unnecessary risk," Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Cliff Sterns (R-Fla.) chairman of its Oversight and Investigations subcommittee, said in a joint statement. "President Obama's signature green jobs program went from a darling of the administration to bankruptcy to now the subject of an FBI raid in a matter of days."
At Fox & Hounds Daily, John Katabeck of the National Federation of Independent Business thinks so:
California's tax policy currently rewards out-of-state corporations for selling their goods in California but keeping their manufacturing and employee bases elsewhere. These companies can play games with their taxes year after year robbing the state of critically-needed funds and denying hard-working families of good-paying jobs.
Small business desperately needs all the help it can get during these tough economic times to ensure they can keep their doors open and operate in their communities. This measure puts California on a level playing field with other states like Texas and New Jersey where similar policy was put in to place by Chris Christie and Rick Perry.
There is however a legitimate question about whether small businesses are actually going to become the engines of job creation that everyone seems to think they can be. This post from Business Insider is fairly mean-spirited, but it makes some solid financial points:
What caused the massive San Diego-area blackout? Seems that a worker in Arizona may have, um…pulled the plug. (KPCC.org)
Mitt hands out the homework. Still working my way through Romney's 160-page "Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth." (mittromney.com)
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner makes the case for a catch-up plan on monetary stimulus. "The repair and restructuring of financial systems has to be accelerated where it has lagged. Countries that forced more capital into their banking systems early in the crisis are better placed to support the recovery. Those that did not should move more forcefully now." (Dept. of Treasury)
Big Tobacco doesn't like Jerry Brown's new tax deal. "As word of the accord spread through the Capitol, tobacco lobbyists were camped outside the State Senate chambers, trying to persuade Republicans there to torpedo the deal." (LAT)
Nothing too deep dish here. That can wait. But just quickly, President Obama did dangle a big carrot in front of Southern California voters with his $447-billion jobs plan: infrastructure. The Big "I." That's roads, bridges, airport improvements — and also schools, which Obama emphasized in particular. I suppose I could include energy infrastructure with that, which matters a lot at this very moment to San Deigo, where reportedly a million people have lost power.
What was unclear from the President's speech is whether his bill will call for an infrastructure bank. It sounds to me like it will go beyond just transportation, exceeding a $6-billion-over-six-years outlay that the GOP transport bill already includes, getting closer to the $30-billion I-Bank Obama has talked up before and that I've both blogged and discussed.