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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Full Employment A Rising Priority for Democratic Economic Agenda

In recent weeks policies to create a “Job Guarantee” or “Full Employment” have quite suddenly assumed a central position in the discussion of the Democratic economic agenda.

These proposals raise a series of important questions that must be carefully analyzed and evaluated regarding their economic feasibility and potential electoral appeal.

The following set of articles provide an introduction to the economic and political aspects of job guarantees and full employment. We believe it is important for all Democrats to familiarize themselves with this subject and understand the issues it raises. The articles are arranged into the following categories: (1) major proposals, (2) articles supporting the approach, (3) progressive cautions about potential difficulties and (4) historical background.

Four Major Proposals for a Jobs Guarantee/Full Employment

1. Center for American Progress
Toward a Marshall Plan for America
By Neera TandenCarmel MartinMarc Jarsulic, Brendan Duke, Ben OlinskyMelissa BoteachJohn HalpinRuy Teixeira, and Rob Griffin

2. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
The Federal Job Guarantee–A Policy to Achieve Permanent Full Employment
By Mark Paul, William Darity, Jr., and Darrick Hamilton

3. Levy Economics Institute of Bard College
Public Service Employment: A Path to Full Employment
By L. Randall Wray, Flavia Dantas, Scott Fullwiler, Pavlina R. Tcherneva and Stephanie A. Kelton

4. Economic Policy Institute
Recommendations for Creating Jobs and Economic Security in the U.S.>
By Josh Bivens

Articles Supporting the Approach

1. The Nation
Why Democrats Should Embrace a Federal Jobs Guarantee
By Sean McElweeColin McAuliffe and Jon Green

2. The New Republic
Back to Work: How Democrats can win over Americans left behind in the new economy.
By Bryce Covert

3. The American Prospect
Why the Cause of Full Employment Is Back from the Dead
By Harold Meyerson

4. Vox
What America would look like if it guaranteed everyone a job
By Dylan Matthews

5. The Washington Post
Q & A; on the Democrat’ big idea: A job creation program
By Jared Bernstein

6. The New York Times
Why the U.S. Needs a Federal Jobs Program, Not Payouts
By Robert E. Rubin

7. The Nation
Why Democrats Should Fight for the Right to a Good Job
By Katrina vanden Heuvel

8. The Democratic Strategist
Minority and White Workers Need the Same Help
Harry J. Holzer, former Chief Economist at the US Department of Labor.

Progressive cautions about potential problems

1. The Daily Beast
Dems’ Job Guarantee Isn’t Nearly as Easy as It Sounds
By Dean Baker

2. New York Magazine
Democrats Are Rushing Into a Job Guarantee. It Could Be a Huge Mistake.
By Jonathan Chait

Historical background

1. Boston Review
Why Coretta Scott King Fought for a Job Guarantee
By David Stein

2. Center for economic and policy research
The Full Employment Mandate of the Federal Reserve: Its Origins and Importance
By Dean Baker, Sarah Rawlins and David Stein

3.  The Full Employment Alternative (1980)
By Andrew Levison
Coward, McCann & Geoghegan

2 comments on “Full Employment A Rising Priority for Democratic Economic Agenda

  1. Candace on

    My motivation for writing anything usually comes from a feeling I need to say something. (probably from the poison of the internet) Of those somethings these list/ kitchen sink posts come out of noticing something that needs to be mentioned or been given attention and as far as I know, it has not. like “hey, you dropped something”
    And with my previous post here sometimes unrelated anger can be a meandering force. wow (not all of that was entirely serious) also there are many government responsibility somethings that are all over the place. what to do.

    I don’t share complete pictures of what I support, believe or am angry about online or even to most people I know unless it happened to be something I thought was important to mention AND it hadnt been given adequate attention to, so never. And with all of these links to articles about the full employment option most everything was already covered.
    Anyhow I’m thinking its looking like a good time to retire from commenting on all of this stuff online anywhere – for my own reasons but also for the public good. 🙂 Some things need to be finalized.
    well wishes to the Democrat party!

  2. Candace on

    on the arguments against they say the skill set (or lack of) that the unemployed or underemployed has isn’t needed by the government, but there is plenty of work that would serve the public good and it doesn’t all have to be about infrastructure. There could be more retraining or self improvement. concerts, theater, art displays outside or in.. promoting inventions.

    I think something similar was mentioned already but delivering food to seniors, disabled or anyone who isn’t able to get out for whatever reasons is nice too.
    There could also be people who putting boxes of food, clothes, hygiene related products together for people in the Middle East, or anywhere –again Nice.

    It wouldn’t hurt to be paid to learn a foreign language, preferably having something to do with your heritage. Because as a person or as a collective if we bury our heads in the sand or enriched soil as it were, in our own problems we will suffocate. But you could also learn Arabic, Hebrew, Chinese because Republicans.

    As far as the problem of the “impossible” task of assigning everyone a job: aren’t there already structures in place that could be adjusted for that?
    DSHS, Temporary employment agencies, public schools all levels. state job programs… just expand them, (or get contracts or follow business model) add options.
    you could open something like a public computer facility similar to a library for some kind of online training (and the a bonus would be getting the computers out of the library and the traffic that comes with them) You would pay something small per hour to use them. Add cafes for revenue

    You could break up Homeland Security and send some of that funding over to Americans financial security. You ask the people buying our elections/representatives to make a donation. “Dark money source #4 bought the software for this certification you’re using today.”

    the other problem mentioned was small business owners or was it just private business would take a hit. As a temporary fix couldn’t small business owners have their employees wages partially paid to make up the difference in wage? (whatever they agree is the correct amount. I think it was 11.84 to 15.00) .

    If you argue our economy or a good one cant survive by everyone having a decent job, youre saying failure is built into the system but also you’re arguing for building up the safety nets, which might not be a bad idea. But instead of work requirements only add a choice of self-improvement requirements. (Sure it has a patronizing feel, some syrupy ickness but could be ultimately for the public good. Actually more free places to go where you have to be doing something productive, which would include music would be for self improvement and the public good as well. If there could be a place for the homeless to hang out and get them out of the library where they could shower add that on the list too.)

    If you are against safety nets too then you’re arguing for a vision of crime, jail, and drug addiction for America. With Republican control, you’re most likely arguing for our public schools to become religious-military preparation facilities for their religious and social wars and/or your life being an income source for their private prison or international war buddies.
    (I hope I’m wrong but these people do have a vision. They aren’t failing because they’re dumb.)

    So yes full employment option. This needs to happen. Aim high


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