Jobs and the Economy Task Force Report

This task force has met several times on a Christian response to the current financial crisis. It's top policy recommendation is the need for a second stimulus package: creating jobs by rebuilding the nation's infrastructure, increasing manufacturing for a green economy, and adopting job creation programs like FDR's in the thirties (the WPA and CCC program).

The task force also recommended that we sponsor a presentation by a significant economist on creating jobs and turning around the economy. MCCG acted on this suggestion by sponsoring a talk on October 14th by Dr. Josh Bivens of the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. ( Dr. Bivens had testified on this subject before the House Budget Committee on July 14th, 2010.

Dr. Bivens asserted strongly at the beginning of his talk that there is no economic reason why the effects of the recession should be so bad this long since the recession began. He attributes the continued high unemployment to a lack of political will to use the tools available. He believes that a second stimulus bill is needed as well as additional action by the Federal Reserve. Contrary to what we often hear, every economist paid to forecast the economic future believes that the first stimulus worked. Without it we would be looking at 11.1% unemployment rather than the current 9.6%.

Bivens recommends the following elements for a new stimulus bill, numbered in order of importance: (1) Rebuilding the nation?s infrastructure; (2) Continuing money transfers (like unemployment compensation) to the unemployed and others seriously affected by the recession (this money is spent in the economy immediately); (3) Payments to state and local governments (many public employees are laid off, which is affecting the quality of services); (4) Tax cuts to low and middle income workers. The Federal Reserve can respond to the crisis by buying up long-term treasury bills and by lowering the value of the dollar (to balance the trade deficit).

As in other presentations sponsored by MCCG, the session began with a review on Catholic Social Teachings. The American bishops, in their pastoral letter on the economy in 1986, said that we must work for the formation of a new national consensus and mobilize the necessary political will at all levels to make the goal of full employment a reality. They recognized that the government has a prominent role to play in addressing the problem of unemployment. Their concrete recommendations were very similar to those of Dr.Bivens.

Michigan Catholics for the Common Good believes very strongly that the Church should be speaking out loudly and clearly on this subject during this fiscal crisis.