Your Ideas for Putting Americans Back to Work

Back in November, for the latest installment of the White House’s Advise the Advisor series, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Nancy-Ann DeParle asked Americans for their ideas for executive actions or steps that President Obama could take, without waiting for Congress to act, to help out middle class families and small business and put Americans back to work.  

Over 18,000 people sent in their ideas, both for actions that the Administration can take, as well as ideas for community actions that non-profits, state and local governments, companies and individuals can take to help grow the economy. For the past few months a team of folks at the White House have combed through the comments. However, we didn’t just read these submissions and file them away.

In fact, Nancy-Ann DeParle called Ira from Glastonbury, Connecticut to discuss his idea to encourage businesses to get involved in youth mentoring and internship programs.  Here's a look at the call:

A lot of people like Ira wanted to see us do more to encourage businesses to hire and mentor youth, and this week, the President announced Summer Jobs+,  a call to action for businesses, non-profits and government to work together to provide pathways to employment for low-income and disconnected youth in the summer of 2012.  Summer Jobs+ includes Federal Government and private sector commitments to create 180,000 employment opportunities, with the goal of 250,000 commitments by the start of the summer.  

With Summer Jobs+, and also the Startup America Partnership the White House has challenged all sectors to go all-in and work together to create social supports and access to relevant education, mentoring and training for young Americans all over the country.

Additionally, today President Obama visited Orlando, Florida to announce a series of actions designed to increase travel and tourism in the United Sates as part of the “We Can’t Wait” campaign.  As the President said:

Every year, tens of millions of tourists from all over the world come and visit America. And the more folks who visit America, the more Americans we get back to work. We need to help businesses all across the country grow and create jobs; compete and win. That’s how we’re going to rebuild an economy where hard work pays off, where responsibility is rewarded, and where anyone can make it if they try.

This was also an idea that came up frequently among Advise the Advisor submissions.  In particular, Donald in Washington submitted the following:

We need to loosen Visa restrictions and expedite speedier results so foreigners can come to America to study and be tourists. This would bring people with different ideas to help the entrepreneur spirit needed to add jobs.  Also, if more foreigners spent money here as tourists that would put more people to work in the hospitality services all over the country.

Here’s a summary of other common themes we saw:

21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and Works Progress Administration (WPA)

One of the most common themes was around the development of a modern version of the CCC and WPA from the 1930’s and 40’s as a way of providing meaningful employment to the millions of Americans out of work.  Sandy in Texas said:

President Obama needs to announce work programs such as the CCC and WPA to put Americans back to work to re-build this country.  We are living in the past instead of looking toward the future.  Especially where conservation and preservation of our National Parks and public lands are concerned, there is a lot of improvement that needs to be done regarding buildings, trails, educational programs, etc.  

“Made in America”

Other submissions focused on promoting a “Made in America” campaign, encouraging Americans to buy US products.  Theresa from New York said:

Get more ’Made in America’ stores started in every state, encourage people to buy US products in order to create US jobs.

Insourcing American Jobs

We also saw a desire to bring American Jobs back home. Karen from Connecticut said:

Return jobs to the US that have been auctioned off to other nations.  We must return service jobs, data processing, manufacturing, and other jobs we have given away.  Immediately remove all tax benefits corporations receive for exporting our jobs.  

Promote and Invest in Green Jobs

Many responders noted the importance of investing in green jobs and clean technologies as a way of both protecting our environment and putting Americans to work.  As Thomas from Arizona said:

Start a Green Technology Corp, like a Peace Corp initiative, where the Government assists home owners and building owners in converting their homes into green power producing sites. Have a phased in trade-in process where larger vehicles would be turned in for smaller and lighter, more energy efficient vehicles. This would reduce the environmental footprint of automobiles, and put downward pressure on oil prices, plus it would increase employment in auto industry.

“Building America Bonds”

Finally, responders promoted having the U.S. Treasury promote the sale of U.S. Savings bonds or “Building America Bonds” to U.S. Citizens that could be used to fund the rebuilding of our crumbling transportation infrastructure and schools. Steve from Ohio said:

Setup a special form of savings bond that would be allocated to infrastructure projects. Investors could purchase bonds that would help pay for projects within their state or another state of their choosing. Ideally, investors could choose to allocate their bonds to one or more specific projects via a website at the time of purchase. While investors would receive a return similar to that of a standard US Treasury bond, the appeal of earning a steady return while investing in a local project would encourage participation in this program.  

Erin Lindsay is the Deputy Director of Online Engagement
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