There is no sturdier liberal or Democratic slogan than "Jobs, jobs, jobs." But liberals have a problem: The old capitalist job-production machine is not working the way it used to. The venerable promise that new (progressive) leadership will create masses of well-paying jobs is harder to make and even harder to keep.
In principle this is a larger problem for conservatives, whose main economic program involves reinforcing the status quo by giving tax cuts to rich people so they have more money to invest. Conservatives simply ignore the fact that fewer jobs are being created, particularly at home, for each dollar invested. But conservatives are expected to stand up for the rich. Liberals are supposed to expand the standard of living for everybody else. That is harder than it used to be.
Mr. Dionne is fundamentally correct. For Democrats and Progressives to have any credibility, they must have a credible story for delivering lots of good, high quality jobs. What he is missing is that the US has been a great job creation machine-for recent immigrants. Where the United States has failed is in creating good jobs for US citizens. In a previous article, Dionne endorsed the Kennedy-McCain immigration proposal, which would strongly accelerate these trends.
I would agree with Mr. Dionne that permanent creation of a class of guest workers in the US would be a big mistake. However, using truly temporary guest worker visas to facilitate gradual deportation of all or most illegal aliens facilitated by financial incentives is something which has not been seriously considered. The problem is that assuring that use of guest worker visas isnt just a means to expand overall immigration rate(as is embedded in the Kennedy/McCain immigration bill) and ensuring that those temporary visas are truly temporary. A period with a large number of guest worker visas would present real and unacceptable problems-but if we in fact saw and overall decline in immigration levels and a gradual repatriation of those former illegal immigrants it would present fewer problems that the recent explosion in illegal immigration coupled by dramatically expanded legal immigration.
The simple fact is that most Americans want less immigration—perhaps not as little as some of us here on Vdare .com might like, but a less than the plutocrats in DC are facilitating. Lots of countries like Japan and South Korea prosper with few or no immigrants. The US has every ability to move strongly in that direction over time. It is a direction that the US must move if we are to return to a high wage, high productivity economy capable of supporting a progressive agenda.