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The agony of job creation

Obama has wisely resisted various ideas in Congress to boost private hiring through direct government action. But there may be tax incentives that can work – with trade-offs.

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The prospect of 10 percent unemployment persisting into next year's elections has Congress itching to do something directly on "job creation." Lawmakers, no doubt, are hearing plenty from jobless Americans who won't have plenty to put on the table this Thanksgiving. More then 7.3 million people have lost full-time work since the recession began in late 2007.

So far, President Obama has wisely resisted rushing to adopt the various ideas that are proposed to boost private hiring through direct government action. He, like many of his economic advisers, seems frustrated at what little government can do. "What we're seeing now is businesses are starting to invest again, they are starting to be profitable again, but they haven't started hiring again," Mr. Obama told NBC News.

Still, pressure from lawmakers to do something before Christmas has forced Obama to plan a "jobs summit" for Dec. 3, which would at least look like Washington cares. He plans to ask business leaders and others for ideas to encourage hiring even as the economy recovers slowly from the longest contraction since World War II. He will then tour areas with high jobless rates,

Mr. Obama's caution about government's ability to create private-sector jobs may come from a reality check on his previous actions. He predicted the $787 billion stimulus package passed in February would keep unemployment below 8 percent. It hasn't, with most of the saved jobs being in local and state government.

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