Before I get into why I think this, I’m on the record as being willing to support a jobs guarantee, if that’s how Democrats et alia decide to go. But the more I think about it, the more I don’t think this is the best way to proceed.
Besides what I’ve discussed before, I see several other problems with a jobs guarantee. First, if these jobs are worth doing, then why not do them full-time, pay more than a $15/hour minimum wage, and make these jobs union jobs? Jobs like support work are important, and should not be considered as last resort jobs (many support work jobs are paid for by the government). I realize the modern Democratic Party thinks the cut and thrust of politics is beneath them, but unions turn voters into Democrats (even white ones!). Second, this could create a two-tier government job system–and don’t think for a moment Republicans wouldn’t hesitate to turn as many government jobs as they could into these (usually) lower-paying, non-union jobs. Third, to prevent corruption and misuse–and that will be a major factor in determining if this program is politically viable (or toxic)–there will have to be considerable federal regulation; anyone who believes that some local or state governments won’t misuse the funds without oversight hasn’t been paying attention.
Finally, we need to learn from the ACA (‘Obamacare’). One political problem with it is that most people’s healthcare insurance situation didn’t change. To be fair, millions of people’s did for the better (though some others’ did for the worse), but most didn’t experience much difference, one way or the other. While this is touted as a success, it’s also a problem: all of that political fuss, and most people gained nothing by it. Had insurance premiums dropped (and ‘not increasing as fast as they might have otherwise’ is not dropping), it would be immensely popular. If Democrats are going to create a large program, the effects have to be noticed by those not in the program. The best way for that to happen is to focus on, as we like to say around here, fixing all of the broken shit. That is, infrastructure, construed incredibly broadly. A massive increase in the non-security domestic discretionary budget, combined with a $15/hour minimum wage would go a very long way in combating joblessness and increasing the quality of life for middle class people, while at the same time, it would improve the quality of life for those not employed by the program.
Like I’ve been saying, I’ll back a jobs guarantee, but I’m not convinced it’s what we should be focusing on right now.