WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sen. Al Franken today called for federal wage subsidies to help cover the cost of hiring new workers as part of his jobs plan, saying America needs “not paycheck-to-paycheck jobs, barely sufficient to pay bills, but jobs that will provide real security and protection for working families.”
His proposal is based on the Minnesota Emergency Employment Development, a program that paid for part of new workers’ salaries. Franken said the MEED program, which is credited with creating 42,000 over three years, “created incentives and gave businesses the jump-start they needed to start hiring people.”
“This is going to be the year when our first priority and our second priority and our third priority will be jobs,” Franken said. “The idea of a jobless recovery is absurd. A true economic recovery is one that can provide good-paying jobs for middle-class Americans.”
Franken didn’t give details of how his proposal would work, but similar suggestions both at the state and federal level include a percentage of the new salaries that would be covered, up to a certain salary level.
Such programs don’t come cheap — another plan tailored to Minnesota and built on the foundation of MEED would cost the state $100 million to provide 7,200 jobs, at a cost of $13,888.89 per job.
But a program like that would be far more efficient than the stimulus law that passed in early 2009, which was estimated to have cost more than $1 million per job that grant recipients reported as created or saved — a reporting metric the Obama administration has since abandoned.
The remainder of Franken’s plan is a mix of funding public works projects, retaining firefighters and teachers, and incentives to promote green jobs and energy-efficient retrofitting. If it seems like you’ve heard that part before, it’s because you have — President Obama said much the same thing at an Alexandria, Va., Home Depot exactly one month ago today.
“So what we want to do is create incentives that stimulate consumer spending, because folks buy materials from home improvement stores like this one, which then buys them from manufacturers. It spurs hiring because local contractors and construction workers do the installation. It saves consumers money — perhaps hundreds of dollars off their utility bills each year – and it reduces our energy consumption in the process,” Obama said.
Franken said whatever the jobs package adopted by Congress may be, it needs to be big.
“As I think about a jobs program, my biggest fear is that we don’t go far enough,” he said.