JJJ: Let's just hire 15 million Americans to do .... something

Bring back the WPA! That’s the economic plan proposed by Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr in an interview with Daily Caller’s Nicholas Ballasly, and it’s a bargain. For just $804 billion, Jackson says we can bail out the states, the cities, and hire every unemployed worker in the US. But, er … for how long?

Jackson called for full government employment of the 15 million unemployed and said that Obama should “declare a national emergency” and take “extra-constitutional” action “administratively” — without the approval of Congress — to tackle unemployment.

“I hope the president continues to exercise extraordinary constitutional means, based on the history of Congresses that have been in rebellion in the past,” Jackson said. “He’s looking administratively for ways to advance the causes of the American people, because this Congress is completely dysfunctional.” …

“On several occasions now, we’ve seen … the Congress is in rebellion, determined, as Abraham Lincoln said, to wreck or ruin at all costs. I believe … in the direct hiring of 15 million unemployed Americans at $40,000 a head, some more than $40,000, some less than $40,000 — that’s a $600 billion stimulus. It could be a five-year program. For another $104 billion, we bailout all of the states … for another $100 billion, we bailout all of the cities,” he said.

Jackson added that his $804 billion stimulus plan is the only way to solve the unemployment crisis. “I support the jobs plan. I support the president’s re-election. I support Barack Obama,” he said. “But at this hour, we need a plan that meets the size and scope of the problem to put the American people to work.”

Where to start with this nonsense? Let’s just start with the math. Employing 15 million at a salary of $40,000 would indeed cost $600 billion, but only for a single year — and only if you don’t count non-salary compensation like health and retirement benefits. With overhead traditionally calculated at 20% of salary, the actual payroll costs for that kind of hiring program would be closer to $720 billion per year, and over five years it would add $3.6 trillion to our national debt over and above what we’re already adding now.

And at the end of five years, when we have to raise taxes to cover all the additional debt and suck capital out of the private sector, how will job creation in America respond to 15 million newly-unemployed government workers? Hint: It will be worse than what we face now. This would become a perpetual make-work program and would cripple the American economy for decades.

The same is true with the math for the state and municipal bailouts. We’ve already given states two years of bailouts, courtesy of the block-grant funding from Porkulus I that allowed states to paper over their budget gaps rather than fix their structural problems. Jackson wants this to also continue in perpetuity, which amounts to the taxpayers of one state subsidizing the bad decisions of another. Will that produce fiscal discipline in the state legislatures, or a rush to claim more subsidies through deficit spending? Given the lack of seriousness that the states approached their budget issues in 2009 and 2010 while getting those Porkulus block grants, I’d bet the latter — especially since it allows politicians an opportunity to dodge difficult choices by passing the bills to Washington.

Finally, it’s simply outrageous to hear a sitting Congressman advise a President to bypass the legislative branch and impose economic policy unilaterally. Jackson took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, didn’t he? Oh, if only Jackson knew someone who could present his proposal to Congress so that the representatives of the people could vote to adopt or reject his plan. Hey, wait a minute …