Amid swirling speculation over whether Barack Obama will “go big” in his plans to address stagnant unemployment numbers, some liberal supporters of the president have been pitching a plan which would call for the federal government to hire up to a million people directly. Not that we wouldn’t like to see a million Americans employed, but how do people feel about having Uncle Sam take on the role of employer in that fashion? According to the latest Rasmussen poll numbers… not very supportive.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Voters shows that just 30% favor the federal government hiring one million people on a temporary basis. Just over half (51%) oppose this idea while another 19% are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
While most Republicans (71%) and voters not affiliated with either major party (55%) oppose this proposal, 54% of Democrats favor it.
These results come at a time when the Rasmussen Employment Index shows that workers’ perceptions of the labor market have fallen to the lowest level measured in one year. Just 17% of workers report that their firms are hiring while 24% say lay-offs are coming.
One of the most frequently cited reasons for opposing this idea is apparently the fear that such jobs would be “wasteful, make-work projects” with no real benefit to the country. Gee… ya think? If the federal government was really so understaffed that the tasks suitable for a million people weren’t being done, they would have already been hired. (It’s not as if Washington has been shy about hiring.) Either that, or the government would have shut down.
What is perhaps most remarkable in these numbers is not how many Republicans and independents answered in a similar fashion, but nearly half of the Democrats admitted this wasn’t a viable solution. Setting people to unproductive work and paying them with taxpayer dollars from an already depleted coffer isn’t the formula for long term growth. Private sector hiring generates real wealth and grows the tax base which the government relies on to pay its bills. A plan such as the one proposed does nothing but provide a temporary sugar rush to the system and, possibly, a brief drop in the unemployment figures. That might be good for the president politically, but does nothing to put us on solid footing in the long run.