How to Bring the Jobs Back: Freeze Public Wages

New York Times Op Ed | September 7, 2011

How to Bring the Jobs Back: Freeze Public Wages

By Barry Bluestone

IN the face of this economic crisis, the federal government has all but declared unilateral disarmament. The Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, has vowed to keep real interest rates near zero, but even at that level few are borrowing. Over at the White House and on Capitol Hill, the pursuit of deficit reduction has taken on a religious fervor just when the economy needs a stimulus.

What can President Obama do? Many are suggesting another try at increasing infrastructure investment, but that would do little to provide a quick boost. Here is a wildly conservative, yet refreshingly liberal, alternative. Mr. Obama should first call together the leaders of all public- sector unions and ask them to pledge to a two-year freeze on federal, state and local public employee wages and benefits in return for a commitment to no government layoffs.

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