Obama's Big, Bold New Jobs Idea Isn't Particularly Big, and It's Certainly Not New
Tomorrow, President Obama will announce the creation of five "promise zones." Don't confuse these with Promise Keepers, which leftists tend to hate. These "promise zones" are supposed to be little urban bubbles where jobs can be created, via tax breaks and other government incentives.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will announce five “Promise Zones” this week as part of his effort to focus on income inequality in the lead-up to his State of the Union address.
Promise Zones are areas where the federal government provides tax incentives and grants to help communities tackle poverty. Obama first announced the initiative during last year’s State of the Union speech.
On Thursday, Obama will announce the first Promise Zone locations. They’re in San Antonio, Texas; Philadelphia; Los Angeles; southeastern Kentucky and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
At a glance, these "promise zones" look like a re-badging of the Jack Kemp-era "enterprise zones." Unless I'm missing something, or there's something devious lurking in the as yet unreleased details, that's just what they are. So this isn't particularly new. It just has a new name, and gives Obama and the Democrats something other than Obamacare to talk about for a day or two -- without allowing any credit for Republicans having come up with it first.
From a man who says there is no red America or blue America, and who says he doesn't care where good ideas come from, it's a bit...typical, actually. But I guess it's about what we can expect from a man who never even met with his jobs council.
Launching the "promise zones" in whatever fuzzy, prog language Obama wants to use is a huge admission that -- drum roll -- cutting taxes spurs economic growth. But to the extent that grants, not tax cuts, fuel the program, it's still going to be a Keynesian exercise in using government spending to somehow pump up growth. Once these money spigots get turned on, it's nigh impossible to turn them off.
Beyond the above details and objections, there's a problem with the scope of this thing. Why single out just five communities for job growth when the whole economy (other than most of Texas and North Dakota and some of the red states, anyway) is suffering? Why does Los Angeles deserve these cuts but the Rio Grande Valley doesn't? Why Philadelphia, but not Peoria? If tax cuts and incentives spur growth, as the president admits, why not extend them to the whole country? Why not make the entire nation one big "promise zone?" It's like he's just rewarding a few communities, or doesn't really trust the program enough to go big with it, or he doesn't really trust us all with our own money. Or he doesn't really want it to do all that much. Surely our president isn't rewarding friends while punishing enemies, and surely he's not such a skeptic of basic human freedom?
For what it's worth, if President Obama is really interested in spurring growth, he should just approve the Keystone pipeline and halt his war on coal, along with repealing Obamacare. Those three things would do far more to spur real, broad and sustained growth than any little "promise zone" ever could.