Focusing on jobs
April 7, 2004
President Bush is understandably delighted about last week's employment figures that showed 308,000 new jobs created in February. But the vehicle he chose to highlight that fact, the Job Training and Education Initiative he proposed Monday, sounds very much like a program for the sake of announcing a program.
He proposes doubling the number of people trained under $4 billion federal jobs programs aimed at older and dislocated workers from 206,000 a year to 412,000. However, the president is proposing no new money for the program.
The president would consolidate these existing training programs into block grants to the states, which would be required to come up with programs of their own with standards of accountability and results, measured by the number of people placed in jobs, salary growth and job retention. These changes would require legislation, but the law covering the program, the Workforce Investment Act, has already been reauthorized by both houses of Congress, and the lawmakers are unlikely to go back and redo their handiwork.
The president also touted a plan to spend $250 million to help community colleges train 100,000 workers, but this is an initiative that he announced in his State of the Union address and is already included in his 2005 budget.
We continue to believe that the best job-creation and job-training programs remain across-the-board economic growth.