(In These Times) -- In recent weeks, talk of a federal job guarantee has swept into the national political debate. Possible 2020 presidential hopefuls Sens. Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) have both expressed their support for the idea, and Booker recently introduced legislation to create a job guarantee pilot program. And after Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) announced his team was compiling a job guarantee proposal, opinions abounded from the left, right and center.
The National Review calls a job guarantee a socialist plot liable to bankrupt the country. Kevin Drum at Mother Jones adopted a similar line, chiding the idea of a job guarantee as “insane” and liable to “cost a fortune.” Denouncing the program as “workfare”, comparable to Victorian poorhouses, left-wing writer Matt Bruenig asks—fairly—“what are these jobs actually going to be like? What does actually fit all the constraints of workfare?
“Despite claims to the contrary, you will not be building bridges out of a job guarantee office,” Bruenig writes, “You will not be doing child care out of a job guarantee office... All of these tasks require either high levels of skill, large amounts of capital, or permanence of service, none of which meet the constraints that a workfare program has to deal with.”
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