Following the president’s job speech last Thursday, the Feminist Majority Foundation released a statement coming out in favor of Mr. Obama’s plan, touting it as benefiting women. Included in their list of positives was Obama’s job training initiatives, the prevention of teacher layoffs, and a plan to invest “$25 billion for modernizing and refurbishing about 35,000 public schools.”
I’ll get to each of these individual proposals in a minute, but first I want to stress that the Feminist Majority’s endorsement demonstrates the fundamental problem with any government “jobs” bill, which inevitably favors some over others.
This was certainly the case with the first $787 billion economic stimulus bill, in which the government picked winners and losers. For instance, municipal construction crews were winners, while small businesses were losers. Similarly, residents of public housing (winners), residents of middle-class housing (losers); “green” home owners (winners), regular home owners (losers). So let’s be clear that if the Feminist Majority believes women are the winners with this newest jobs proposal, then surely someone else is a loser.
As for the president’s proposal to increase investment in jobs training, read what Charlotte has to say about that here.
Mr. Obama’s proposal to “prevent about 280,000 teachers’ layoffs” is pure politics – a measure intended to please the teachers unions, which just so happen to be one of the Democrats most important interest groups. The notion that unless Washington pumps more money into public schools, communities will lose qualified teachers and students will suffer is hogwash. Let’s step back a minute and think about that. State governments have been increasing spending across the board – and on all-things-education in particular – for decades. As Cato’s Adam Schaeffer (yes, we’re related) recently explained, “the cost per student has nearly tripled while test scores at the end of high school are flat.”
And this takes us to the other brilliant proposal, investing more money into school infrastructure. Did anyone else miss the $500 million-dollar Taj Mahal school debacle in Los Angeles? Again, investment in public education facilities has increased more than 150% since 1989, while investment in instruction has only gone up 30%. See the problem?
In the end, the problem with the president’s late-to-the-game jobs proposal comes down to economics and equality. The Feminist Majority may really believe women benefit from a robust federal government that keeps taxes high, but provides endless services and programs, from job training to education to retirement plans. But I have to try one more time to make the point that women would be better off if government would stop interfering in the economy – stop picking winners and losers – and allow women to keep more of their hard-earned money and make decisions that best suit the needs of their businesses and families.