|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
With just two months until the November elections, the White House is seriously weighing a package of business tax breaks - potentially worth hundreds of billions of dollars - to spur hiring and combat Republican charges that Democratic tax policies hurt small businesses, according to people with knowledge of the deliberations.
Among the options under consideration are a temporary payroll-tax holiday and a permanent extension of the now-expired research-and-development tax credit, which rewards companies that conduct research into new technologies within the United States.
Administration officials have struggled to develop new economic policies and an effective message to blunt expected Republican gains in Congress and defuse complaints from Democrats that President Obama is fumbling the issue most important to voters. Following Obama's vacation and focus on foreign policy in recent weeks, White House advisers have arranged a series of economic events for the president next week, including two trips to swing states and a news conference.
"We'll continue to do everything we can, understanding that recovery will require persistent effort. There are no silver bullets," senior Obama adviser David Axelrod said in an interview Thursday. "At the same time, we have to make clear our ideas and theirs, and the fact that the Washington Republicans, having helped create this recession, have attempted to block our every effort to deal with it."
Anyone wondering where all the economy's jobs are might want to look into piggy banks of the world's biggest companies.
Cash is gushing into companies' coffers as they report what's shaping up to be the third-consecutive quarter of sharp earnings increases. But instead of spending on the typical things, such as expanding and hiring people, companies are mostly pocketing the money and stuffing it under their corporate mattresses.
Non-financial companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 have a record $837 billion in cash, S&P says. That's enough to pay 2.4 million people $70,000-a-year salaries for five years. For context, 2.2 million to 2.8 million jobs were saved or created by the $862 billion stimulus that President Obama signed into law in February 2009, according to a report released in April from the Council of Economic Advisers.
Rather than investing in their future, companies are piling up cash and collecting practically zero interest on the money, hoping there will be a better time to invest later.