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New Deal-Type Jobs Program Proposed as Recession Remedy

December 30, 2009

PHOENIX - To address the nation's continuing job shortage, congressional Democrats are hoping for a second economic stimulus package. The measure could focus on tax incentives, or it could create a New Deal-type federal jobs program.

Carol Stambaugh, the Arizona director for the National Association of Social Workers, says putting people to work, even temporarily, has huge symbolic value beyond a paycheck.

"People right now need the tangible, the things that they can see - either in their hand, in their pocket or in their community - and such a program would provide that."

Stambaugh says the New Deal programs also left behind numerous needed improvements to the nation's infrastructure.

"They're still with us today in the form of parks, sidewalks and even in improvements that make Grand Canyon National Park the treasure we have here in Arizona."

Stambaugh says the nation has plenty of crumbling roads and bridges that could be renewed through a jobs program, along with other transportation improvements.

"We're looking at a greener society. We're looking at trying to change the way we do things and live life. This is a way to be able to invest in some of those new ideas. For example, railway; for example, improvement in our already existing mass transit system."

Some economists contend New Deal jobs did little to shorten the Great Depression, but Stambaugh says the federal work programs were essential because they gave people hope. She adds that public attitudes and perceptions go a long way in driving what happens in the economy.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ