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A Daily News editorial

CALL US summit poopers, but President Obama didn't need to call for the one on jobs today to know that ordinary Americans are desperate for work.

CALL US summit poopers, but President Obama didn't need to call for the one on jobs today to know that ordinary Americans are desperate for work.

Or that they can't wait for the alleged economic recovery the administration is bragging about to reach them in the form of paychecks.

The national unemployment rate is 10.2 percent, which doesn't take into account those who have stopped looking or who are working fewer hours than they want. It's not likely to go down when the new figures are posted tomorrow. (In Philadelphia, unemployment is at 11.1 percent.)

The time for breaking into small-group discussions to talk about the problem is past. Americans are losing their homes and their health, and young people are losing their futures. It's time for Congress to pass a "jobs bill." Like yesterday.

What should be in it is no mystery. Separate but similar proposals by the AFL-CIO and the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) think tank lay out the basics:

Strengthen the safety net by extending unemployment benefits, increasing food stamps and COBRA coverage. People who get these benefits will use them immediately, creating work for others, and strengthening the economy.

Increase aid to state and local governments. Helping them avoid cutting jobs and services is the same as creating jobs. EPI cites estimates of $160 billion in state budget gaps in the next year, which could cost 700,000 more jobs.

(In Philadelphia, the opportunity to simply borrow money from the U.S. Treasury to shore up the city's pension system could transform the city's budget picture by more than $100 million.)

Infrastructure, infrastructure. The United States has at least $3 trillion in unmet infrastructure needs, says the AFL-CIO. Added to the highway and transit jobs created by the Recovery Act, the nation's schools could use at least $10 billion in repairs and maintenance, creating jobs in construction and supplier industries.

Public-sector work. WPA, CETA - call it anything you want - workers at all skill levels should be paid by the government to do needed work in their communities. With care not to replace public employees, workers could be hired for environmental cleanup, child care, even jobs in the professions like health care.

Job tax credits. Provide businesses with refundable tax credits of 10 to 15 percent of wages for each new employee, a program that could create two million jobs.

This is no time to worry about the deficit. That's what got us to this point. Leading economists told us so in February: The stimulus was too small, and too weighted toward tax cuts and not job creation. They were right.

Wall Street is - you should pardon the expression - in the money again, even though it took the irresponsible risks that killed millions of jobs. Now the president and Congress must take some responsible risks to put ordinary Americans back to work.

Deja vu all over again

And speaking of jobs, Allen Iverson just ended a full week of unemployment by taking a job at reduced pay with his former employer, the 76ers.

But will he work for the team - or continue to operate his own small business?

Editor's note: Dr. Mariana Chilton, director of the "Witness to Hunger" program, will be chatting live on from 1 to 2 p.m. today about food insecurity and how some families in Philadelphia are struggling to feed their children.

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