January 19, 2011; Source: The Hill | In contrast to the positive view of the stimulus offered by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, claiming that the stimulus helped millions of Americans avoid falling below the federal poverty line, the Republican leadership in Congress has a somewhat different perspective. A report issued by the House Ways and Means Committee, now under the direction of Congressman Dave Camp (R-MI), deemed the stimulus a “huge failure.”
The report, titled “It’s Official: On Unemployment and Jobs, Democrats’ 2009 Stimulus Was a Huge Failure,” doesn’t read like the bipartisan comity that Republican and Democratic leaders have talked about in recent weeks. The rather brief report details a typical list of Republican charges against the program, starting with the January 2009 predictions of President Obama’s economic advisors Christina Romer and Jared Bernstein of a post-stimulus unemployment rate of 7 percent (compared to the current 9.4 percent) and a post-stimulus job count of 137.6 million jobs (compared to the December 2010 actual of 130.7 million).
The Republican members of the committee reported that only three states (Alaska, New Hampshire, and North Dakota) plus the District of Columbia have shown any job growth (D.C. actually met job growth projections by adding 22,400 in the district). They offer an “Obama Misery Index” combining the percentage change in unemployment and the deficit since January 2009. Their solution is to recommend passing free trade agreements, eliminating “ObamaCare”, streamlining the tax code, and controlling spending that leads to deficits that “crush . . . families and job creators.”
Apparently, the Republicans don’t think much about jobs in the nonprofit sector or jobs that provide educational and human services. According to their report, although three industrial sectors show positive job growth (including mining and leisure/hospitality), only one surpassed the growth Romer/Bernstein estimates from January 2009 – education, health, and social services, which added 687,000 jobs. Government, distinct from this category, actually shed 310,000 jobs in this period. These are jobs that are in many cases in the nonprofit sector.
When did the Republican Party deem nonprofit jobs to be unworthy of a single comment or plaudit? The nonprofit sector is not only helping prevent families and communities avoid a desperate plunge into the depths of poverty, but also it is generating productive jobs of service to community, service to society that should be seen as positive steps for the U.S. economy. – Rick Cohen