Those caveats notwithstanding, here’s a guide to the candidates’ proposals for job creation.
• Spend $30 billion to renovate schools nationwide, creating jobs in the hard-hit construction sector.
• Spend $50 billion on critical infrastructure, repairing bridges, roads, airport facilities and highways, creating jobs in the hard-hit construction sector.
• Cut payroll taxes for businesses, primarily smaller employers. He would cut in half payroll obligations on the first $5 million in payroll taxes.
• Give a payroll tax holiday for employers that add jobs or raise wages beyond the prior year’s payrolls.
• Extend business-expensing tax provision that allows companies to deduct from taxes the full value of new investment in equipment.
Obama’s plan is more specific on government programs to create jobs.
He offers a number of tax credits to encourage business investment, which would in theory create more demand for products and thus more jobs for those who make, warehouse and transport the goods. He’d also provide $5 billion to help communities hire or retain public safety personnel and first responders.
While many of these ideas have some Republican support, they’re packaged together in a bill that costs $447 billion and would be paid for through savings from a broader 10-year deficit reduction plan that is stuck in Washington’s infamous gridlock.
The administration has tried unsuccessfully to have the Senate pass components of its plan. Just Wednesday, Senate Republicans quashed a procedural vote on a bill to create the Veterans Job Corps, an effort to encourage the hiring of war vets as first responders.
“I think that if you look at plans that are out and on the table, that are specific, that are actionable and that independent economists have looked at, the president’s is the only plan that would have a significant impact on jobs and economic growth in the short term,” said Brian Deese, deputy director of the president’s National Economic Council.
The administration thinks its stalled jobs bill would spur 1 million additional jobs in the near term. The Romney campaign acknowledges it offers no similar short-term hiring program, focusing instead on a plan that prepares the way for robust hiring. It assumes that a change at the top on its own would be bullish for hiring in the economy.
“We would certainly plan to deliver a lot more certainty, just from clarity in policy, that is going to allow individuals and businesses some idea of how to make long-term hiring and expansion decisions, knowing what the rules of the road are,” said Pierce Scranton, Romney’s director of economic policy.
Obama’s team counters that the economy and hiring will actually go backward because of steep cuts in government spending envisioned in a plan offered by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Romney’s running mate.
“It’s not just that it’s hard to find specific, direct job-creating policies. You also have to take into account the fact that they’re introducing substantial short-term austerity measures,” said Deese, who limited his comments to legislation introduced by Ryan, since the National Economic Council is not involved in the campaign.