The 44th president makes his first visit to Georgia today, touring Savannah Technical College and giving a speech there this afternoon. The focus of the speech will be new government incentives for homeowners to improve energy efficiency.
The energy efficiency program is being done under the guise of economic stimulus, even if the S-word has been banished from Democrats’ lexicon (which seems strange, considering they’re always telling us about the success of their $862 billion stimulus package last year). And that raises an important point.
The government may want to promote home energy efficiency on its own merits, perhaps for environmental reasons. If so, it should decide how much efficiency it wants to gain, decide the program’s length and cost on that basis, and sell the program to the public on those terms. (Which isn’t to say that we necessarily should buy it.)
What we have instead is an alleged “jobs” program — the J-word is more fashionable in Washington — that focuses on an extremely narrow slice of the economy and is expected to create, well, no one knows how many (or few) jobs.
A real jobs bill would focus on broad-based cuts that give employers a direct incentive to hire more workers: a one-year elimination of FICA taxes, for instance. That policy would present its own problems, but at least it would be a jobs policy that aims directly at jobs.
Would some employers maybe get credit for hires they were going to make anyway? Probably. But, similarly, some homeowners are already planning to upgrade their houses; after spending a winter with 20-plus-years-old windows that leak heat, and with energy prices likely to rise, I’m one of them.
Cash for Caulkers is environmental policy masquerading as a job-creation policy — which, it seems, the administration still lacks.