Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Romney's Big Unemployment Idea Is ... a Bush-Era Idea That's a Proven Failure

Putting jobs first? Not so much, Mr. Romney.

Sometimes, blog titles just write themselves, like today.

Mitt Romney, showing the brilliant business acumen that made him a multimillionaire many times over, announced that his big idea for reviving jobs and reducing unemployment is ... a Bush-era idea that is a proven failure.

What's it they say about insanity - something about trying the same thing while expecting different results, right?

Anyway, here are the details, from NPR, which rather charitably says that the Bush-era idea "has mixed results" rather than "is a proven failure," though the latter is more accurate:
In 2004, the Bush administration conducted an experiment to begin privatizing a small part of the federal retraining program.
"The justification was that you would better manage yourself than if people in the public sector were giving you guidance about training and re-employment services," says Stephen Wandner, a former senior economist at the Labor Department.
The program worked by giving unemployed workers an account containing $3,000 to get back on their feet. They could use the money to pay for job training, or just to help them in the job search. For instance, it could pay for travel to job interviews or for printing resumes.
"It was entirely theirs," says John McAllister, chief deputy director of the Labor Department in Idaho. "There [were] no restrictions on it whatsoever."
Idaho is one of the states that participated in the program. McAllister says if people got jobs right away, they were free to take the money as a bonus and spend it how they wanted. McAllister says he thought the prospect of getting a bonus would encourage people to look for work more aggressively. Instead, he says, they mostly used the money for what are called supportive services.
People used the money to pay for things that made it possible for them to hold down jobs. It went to pay for day care or new work clothes or car repairs. McAllister says people didn't really need encouragement to look for work.
"I think we misjudged the population we were dealing with," he says. "They had difficulty even getting to a job. They had to solve that before they could get the bonus. We got the cart before the horse, is one way to put it."
The program was never extended after it ended. An independent report issued a few years later concluded the program wasn't a big success. Now, Romney has talked about reviving the program if he's elected, though he hasn't provided many details about what he would do differently.
The Romney campaign didn't respond to requests for comment.
Also not surprising at all: the Romney campaign - sticking to their strategy of refusing to say what Romney would actually do as President - refused to comment on their proposal to revive a failed Bush-era idea as the solution to unemployment.

As should be obvious from this blog, Romney is not my man - I just can't get behind a politician who lies so effortlessly, so often, so needlessly, and so transparently - but it also doesn't help that his proposed solutions for the country 1) have already been tried by George W. Bush, who was objectively one of the worst Presidents in American history, and 2) have already been proven to fail. Seriously, Mitt - at least come up with ideas that haven't already been proven to fail; show some effort, man!

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