Democrat Barack Obama said Wednesday that as president he would spend $210 billion to create jobs in construction and environmental industries, as he tried to win over economically struggling voters.
Obama's investment would be over 10 years as part of two programs. The larger is $150 billion to create 5 million so-called "green collar" jobs to develop more environmentally friendly energy sources.
Sixty-billion dollars would go to a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank to rebuild highways, bridges, airports and other public projects. Obama estimated that could generate nearly 2 million jobs, many of them in the construction industry that's been hit by the housing crisis.
"This agenda is paid for," Obama said as the Republican National Committee promoted an "Obama Spend-O-Meter" online to track his proposals and portray him as a tax-and-spend liberal. Obama explained that the money for his spending proposals will come from ending the Iraq war, cutting tax breaks for corporations, taxing carbon pollution and raising taxes on high income earners.
I would love to tell everyone that this is possible; that the US has the money to spend and that we can use major federal initiatives to minimize the impact to the housing mess.
But we don't.
And this is not a problem only faced by Obama -- it's faced by every major candidate. After 7 years of Republican dominated politics the US just doesn't have the money to spend. The damage has already been done.
Let's start with the fiscal history of the last 7 years. This information is from the Treasury Department and it shows the total federal debt outstanding at the end of the federal government's fiscal year.
09/30/2007 $9,007,653,372,262.4809/30/2006 $8,506,973,899,215.2309/30/2005 $7,932,709,661,723.5009/30/2004 $7,379,052,696,330.3209/30/2003 $6,783,231,062,743.6209/30/2002 $6,228,235,965,597.1609/30/2001 $5,807,463,412,200.0609/30/2000 $5,674,178,209,886.86
Currently, the total debt outstanding is $9,250,932,577,938.04.
To put that in perspective, debt as a percentage of GDP has increased from 57.29% in 2001 to 64.47% in 2007. That's a solid and steady increase.
Now -- the Republicans have created a meter on their website to track the increases in government spending. You guys ran the government for 6 years. You had complete control. YOU GOT US INTO THIS MESS IN THE FIRST PLACE. SHUT THE HELL UP.
And no -- this is not some ephemeral concept that means nothing the real world. Take a look at a chart of the US dollar:
The dollar has been dropping for the better part of the last 6 years. Over the last few years we've seen competition from the euro start to knock the dollar out of it once dominate reserve status -- which has helped to continue the dollar's downward spiral. If we don't start seriously dealing with the deficit soon, we can expect further declines in the dollar which will seriously hurt us in the long run.
No candidate will run on a cleaning up the deficit platform. It's not an economic winner -- especially during a period of economic problems. In addition, the way to clean-up the mess -- raising taxes and asking people who benefited from the last 7 years to now pay their fair share of that growth -- is a politically dicey proposition at best. So what is actually in the interest of the country in the long-run just isn't going to work politically.
And some of Obama's plan is really good -- especially the green-collar jobs idea. That makes great sense, especially in the long-run.
But the money just ain't there.