As Washington’s muddle-through economy limps on and the public need for better job prospects continues to grow, it is becoming increasingly clear that the people of Washington will have two types of job stimulus programs from which to choose.

One is economy-driven. The other relies on government.

A statement released October 24 by the Washington State House Republicans, spearheaded by House Republican Leader Richard DeBolt, is an example of an economy driven stimulus program. Their four-pronged plan includes suspension of onerous growth management restrictions in counties with high unemployment, permitting reforms, a moratorium on rulemaking, and the reclassification of hydropower as a renewable energy to help mitigate rising energy costs.

Not to be outdone, Democrats followed up DeBolt’s message with a jobs plan of their own. House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan said Republican’s aren’t the only ones with a plan. An article in the Olympian captures his comments:

“Sullivan raised questions about DeBolt’s proposals, which did not specify how many jobs they would create. Democrats also want to help create jobs, and some kind of bond issue for public projects could emerge, Sullivan said.”

Rep. Sullivan’s idea to issue more bonds—read “debt”—is an example of a government stimulus program. This is the same type of program, writ small, which has been attempted on the national stage where stimulus efforts in 2008 and 2009 reached nearly $1 trillion dollars. However, despite all that spending and going deeper into debt, the U.S. remains in urgent need of jobs.

There are many elements of the House Republican’s plan that commend it above that of the Democrats:

First and foremost, Rep. DeBolt’s plan isn’t a revenue gamble. We don’t have to issue state debt and cross our fingers in hopes that the desired impact on jobs will occur. Despite all the good intentions in the world, rarely do such programs create the number of jobs claimed at the outset. What you get for sure is more debt.

Secondly, beyond being a revenue gamble, government’s “free” money is often poorly invested. We’ve heard this complaint with the big national stimulus efforts. Few argue that the hundreds of billions of stimulus dollars actually had the level of impact initially promised—many readily admit the effort came up far short. Yet instead of admitting the overall project was a failure, it is often claimed that the real problem was the specific allocations. “The idea was okay, it was the way the idea was executed that was the problem,” you might hear. But as any CEO will tell you, it’s the execution that matters most.

Oh well, too bad; chalk it up as a trillion dollar mistake.

A third reason the Republicans’ plan commends itself above and beyond the Democrats’ plan is a little more straight forward—it places its hope for success in the people of Washington. Instead of relying solely on rarified number crunching, fiscal multipliers, or input-output models involved in calculating the job impact of government spending, the approach taken by DeBolt and his caucus begins with the admission that there is a latent energy within the people of Washington themselves to work their way out of the recession, create jobs and craft, with their own hands, the economic future they desire.

That’s an appealing idea. Washington’s economy doesn’t need to be pushed, shoved, and forced into some sort of pseudo recovery, all the while incurring more debt. But rather, the tools needed to usher in a recover are already there. The state simply needs to remove key barriers to performance, and watch the economic recovery unfold.


[Reprinted from the Freedom Foundation blog; photo credit: Zach Klein]

House Republicans in Olympia Push ‘Economy-Driven’ Job Plan