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Questo articolo è stato pubblicato il 03 luglio 2012 alle ore 12:40.


Likewise, Congress failed to approve Obama’s call for $90 billion in additional infrastructure spending, which would have supported about 400,000 jobs, despite the fact that the US has at least $1.1 trillion in unfunded infrastructure needs. Moreover, infrastructure investment not only creates jobs in the near term, but also promotes long-term competitiveness.

Altogether, Congress left at least one million jobs on the negotiating table, holding unemployed workers hostage to the outcome of November’s election.

Meanwhile, in response to persistent media pressure, Romney has unveiled his policies to boost short-term job creation. They are not convincing. Romney says that he would ensure that the US puts more people to work in the energy sector. But, while the oil and gas industry has grown significantly since 2007, it employs fewer than 200,000 people, implying a negligible effect even if employment in this sector doubled in the short run.

And, while Romney says that he would open new foreign markets, Obama has been doing just that, winning passage of three major trade agreements and increasing federal support for US exports, which have been growing nearly twice as fast as they did during the recovery from the 2001 recession. Moreover, Romney’s promise to charge China, America’s third-largest export market, with currency manipulation, and to impose large tariffs on Chinese imports, would almost certainly invite retaliation, causing a decline in US exports and jobs.

Romney would also repeal Obamacare – the 2010 health-care reform legislation – because it is scaring small business from hiring. But the evidence for this claim is meager and anecdotal. A recent survey found that most small businesses support the reform. Most businesses, large and small, cite insufficient demand as the primary reason they are not hiring.

Nor is Romney’s promise to enact immediate cuts in federal discretionary spending by an additional 5% likely to boost job growth, as he asserts. When an economy is suffering from high unemployment and weak aggregate demand, spending cuts are contractionary. Romney conceded this point recently, acknowledging that the fiscal cliff – the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts at the end of this year, combined with large spending cuts already scheduled to take effect – would push the economy back into recession.

Finally, in addition to extending Bush’s tax cuts, Romney promises an across-the-board 20% reduction in marginal personal-income-tax rates and a significant cut in the corporate rate to encourage businesses to hire more workers. Despite large cuts in marginal income-tax rates at the start of the Bush administration, however, job growth between 2000 and 2007 was half the rate of the previous three decades.

Even if Romney’s new tax cuts strengthened investment and growth in the long run (a debatable proposition that depends on how they are financed), their short-term effect on job creation would be minimal, and they would entail a significant loss of revenue. Indeed, these cuts perform poorly on the CBO’s measure of budgetary effectiveness.

Obama’s proposals to boost job creation are convincing, whereas Romney’s proposals would have little or no effect – and some could even make matters worse. Voters need to know the difference.

Laura Tyson, a former chair of the US President's Council of Economic Advisers, is a professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley.

Copyright: Project Syndicate,


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