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Hiring jobless veterans still won’t lift economy

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A tiny piece of Obama’s jobs package just might have a chance of passing Congress.

The provision would give companies a tax credit of up to $9,600 for hiring veterans who’ve been unemployed for at least six months. The bill could come up for a vote in the Senate by the end of this week, and Republican Sen. Scott Brown (Mass.), for one, has already promised to sign on.


Veterans march to support the Occupy Wall Street movemet in New York earlier this month.

Politically speaking, it’s the part of Obama’s bill with the broadest appeal. But it’s also unlikely to have much of an effect on the overall economy and the nation’s sluggish employment rate. Even businesses that do use the credit aren’t likely to create new jobs for veterans. They’ll simply pick veterans over non-veterans for jobs they were planning to fill anyway, as the Atlantic’s Daniel Indiviglio pointed out.

What’s more, though the unemployment rate for recent Gulf War veterans “is quite high,” Indiviglio wrote, “the unemployment rate for veterans overall is relatively low -- just 7.7%.” Even if businesses did create a new job for each of these unemployed veterans—an unlikely best-case scenario— U.S. unemployment would drop from 9 to only 8.8 percent, he concluded.

Obama’s larger jobs plan contains a proposal that would give businesses a tax credit for job creating new jobs, rather than simply changing their hiring preferences. But the political divide over how to pay for the tax credit basically means that it’s going nowhere.

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