Washington policymakers ought to prioritize “job creation now” over federal deficit reduction, a top Senate Democrat says, suggesting increased investment in national infrastructure as a way to do it.
Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate, made his remarks Sunday on the CBS TV news program “Face The Nation.”
Although much of the attention that Schumer received for his interview on the show has focused on the payroll tax holiday he proposed, he also talked up infrastructure improvements as a key economic driver.
“Economists will tell you, we need to deal with deficit reduction over the next 10 years but we need to deal with job creation now,” Schumer says.
Questioning the sincerity of Republicans in their commitment to job creation, Schumer suggested offering employers a year-long payroll tax holiday for workers that they hire.
Schumer says he made the proposal because Republicans typically support tax breaks.
“If they’re against a business tax cut to help employment, they’ve always been for business tax cuts in the past,” the senator says. “You got to wonder maybe they don’t want the economy to grow.”
Others, such as Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, question the type of employer tax break Schumer suggests because of it hurting the Social Security program, however.
“I understand the need in the midst of a recession to put money in the pockets of working people, but this is not the way to do it,” Sanders, a left-leaning independent told The Hill newspaper.
Job creation has come back as a top issue since the federal government reported dismal new hiring statistics for May.
Even before getting to the tax break, Schumer focused on developing U.S. infrastructure as a way to create jobs. Economists are worried that the nation’s economic recovery is in danger of stalling out and falling back toward recession.
“Now economists will tell you that when you build infrastructure, it creates new jobs,” he says. “And we should be doing something like that. Our roads, our highways, our water and sewer, that’s the old type of infrastructure. And we should be doing some more of that.
“We should also be doing some new types of infrastructure like a national power grid, making sure every home gets broadband. And we have a bunch of different ideas to do that. [Sen.] Barbara Boxer [D-Calif.] has a highway bill. There’s an infrastructure bank, Build America Bonds and helping green jobs,” he adds.
Although Republicans say they want to tame the federal budget deficit, the nation won’t be able to do so without adding new jobs, Schumer says.
“And just about, you know, the vast majority of economists, including some conservative economists see– say if you’re not going to create jobs, we’re never going to get out of this rut,” Schumer says in his interview with CBS host Bob Schieffer. “And we will never really reduce the deficit either.”
It’s not only liberals who say the United States should be focusing more on infrastructure. Earlier this year, the head of the stridently pro-business U.S. Chamber of Commerce testified alongside the chief of the AFL-CIO labor federation in favor of increased infrastructure spending.
Scott Nance is the editor and publisher of the news site The Washington Current. He has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.