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Congress Can Move Now to Prevent Layoffs, Plant Closings

John Nichols - Recognizing the social, economic and political threat posed by double-digit unemployment numbers, and by the prospect that those numbers are continuing to rise, key Democratic senators are proposing an innovative two-year plan to spend as much as $600 million to avert layoffs.

The plan to support so-called "work-share" strategies -- where firms keep workers on the job with reduced hours and state programs then step in to fill the pay gap -- is a classic government intervention. Yet it has won the backing not just of progressive economists but of a top economic adviser to Republican John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign.

Unfortunately, this smart alternative to layoffs has yet to earn the embrace of an Obama administration that -- despite a growing sense of urgency on the part of the president who has scheduled a December 3 forum on job creation and a cross-country "economic recovery tour" -- remains far too resistant to immediate and necessary responses to the unemployment crisis.

If the administration gets serious about addressing joblessness, however, the anti-layoff initiative proposed by Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed, a key Democratic member of the Senate Banking Committee, merits serious attention. Read more.


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