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Job issue stirs partisan debate

6:52 PM, Sep 1, 2011   |    comments
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(AP File Photo)

ATLANTA -- The debate over jobs is nearly as split as the debate over the debt. And whatever President Obama proposes next week, it's guaranteed to face Republican opposition.

Republicans and Democrats generally agree that long-term job growth will come out of the private sector.

Kasim Reed, Mayor of Atlanta, one of Georgia's leading Obama backers, says the private sector could expand the economy now, if it wanted to.

"The private sector is doing extremely well right now. The Capital is just remaining on the sidelines. I mean it is not disputed that there is $2-Trillion of capital in the private sector. For a number of reasons, and I don't want to cast aspersions, they are choosing not to invest right now," Reed said.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal says jobs must come from the private sector but says the Government's cards are stacked against them.

"If the Federal Government would just realize that when they try to over-regulate; when they try to micromanage things from the Federal level, it's a job killer approach," Deal said.

"Get some of the regulatory burden off the backs of individuals as well as corporations and business and get the tax burdens as low as you can possible make them," Deal said.

Governor Deal says government spending is choking the economy. He's joining fellow Republicans in a call for new tax cuts that he says will expand the economy, lower the federal deficit and spark more jobs in private sector.  He also points to Georgia's lower tax rate that he says has led to private sector hiring.

But Mayor Reed says history shows lower taxes don't always help. Reed points out that the economy soared under President Clinton. President Bush cut taxes -- and the economy all but collapsed in the last year of his presidency. President Obama extended the Bush tax cuts. But the economy still isn't creating jobs.

Jobs created by Stimulus difficult to track

As President Obama prepares to introduce another jobs bill, efforts to nail down the total number of jobs created by the 800-billion dollar stimulus package have proven fruitless.

"We do not have a cumulative job number," said Cheryl Arvidson, Assistant Director of Communications with the Recovery Accountability Board.

Georgia's Stimulus Accountability web site includes a great deal of detail about the 7-billion dollars of stimulus funds that have poured into the state. Nowhere do you find a total number of jobs created by that money.

There are quarterly numbers that look impressive, but some jobs are counted in more than one quarter. Arvidson says adding the quarterly numbers together would give an inflated picture of the jobs created by the stimulus bill.

Shortly after the start of the stimulus program, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget asked recipients to report quarterly job numbers, rather than cumulative numbers.

"For one reason, this is a first time ever effort," said Arvidson. "The decision clearly was made that it was getting too complicated, and it would not be possible to try to trace an individual job from one quarter to another."

Arvidson concedes with many stimulus projects complete, it would be just about impossible to ever calculate a total number of jobs created by the program.

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