For quite some time, Spark News has been reporting on bills and legislation that Congress has wanted to get passed by using jobs creation as a crutch. With the majority of the country focused on getting more jobs added to the market and more people hired, the jobs creation label is certainly very open to exploitation. Fortunately, it seems as though more and more observers are privy to the trend. In latest news, Congress is using jobs creation as the main drive for an expensive transportation bill.
As Spark News mentioned last week, the federal highway bill expires at the end of this month. As a result, Democrats have been urging Republican House members to being work on a new transportation bill so it can be passed before the expiration. According to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), they are working on it, but there seems to be some difficulties. Last Autumn, Stephen Boehner, R-Ohio, presented the outline of a new five-year, $260 billion transportation bill. Titled the “American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012”, the bill has since then lost a lot of its popularity with the Republicans and Democrats alike. According to Republicans, it is too pricey and some Democrats believe it would work against union workers, tamper with mass-transit funding and weaken environmental controls, reports Mass Live.
However, the main issue is with the way Congress is marketing this bill to the public and others. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev spoke on Thursday about how great a new transportation bill would be for the job market. He was quoted saying, “this legislation would put 2 million middle-class Americans back to work right away. Although our economy has gained momentum, there are still millions of Americans out of work. So it should be obvious why we can’t afford to delay efforts to rebuild our roadways, railways and bridges.”
That all sounds great, but how much of it is actually true? Of course there would be a jobs gain in the market if a new transportation bill was passed and we started to work on restructuring and fixing the country’s highways, but would it truly add more jobs or just move job availability from one industry to another as the funding shifts? Alice Rivlin, a former director of the White House Office of Management and Budget under President Bill Clinton, believes that the new jobs will simply shift from one industry to another, not necessarily adding more jobs to the market. “Investments in transportation infrastructure, if well designed, should be viewed as investments in future productivity growth,” she said. “If they speed the delivery of goods and people, they will certainly do that,” she said. “They will also create jobs, but not necessarily more jobs than the same money spent in other ways.”
Rivlin argues that the bill will definitely add more jobs to the market, but if this particular bill is not passed it is likely that the money for that bill will still be spent in a way that will add jobs to the market. It is her opinion that the bill should not be looked at as a jobs creation ploy, but rather as an investment in future productivity since the roads will be better and allow for transportation to be much more efficient. Much like Rivlin, Mass Live points out that the issue of jobs creation is unimportant when placed next to the many other benefits that we can reap from improving our country’s highways and roads. They point out that enabling people to get to work and improving the time businesses must account for traveling goods are much more prominent arguments than adding more jobs to the market.