WASHINGTON - With the national unemployment rate at 9.1 percent, getting people back to work is the theme President Obama and the Republican presidential candidates are hitting upon most on the stump. But will their proposals make a difference?
On a three-day, three-state bus tour, the president is pushing infrastructure subsidies and patent reform as a way to kickstart job growth. Most of the Republican candidates are pushing for less regulation and lower taxes. CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes conducted a reality check Tuesday on "The Early Show."
The owners of the Faribault Woolen Mills in Minnesota are hoping to add 40 workers by this fall. But, like so many businesses in this economy, their biggest obstacles are uncertainty and access to credit.
"You just have investors who are very much in a mode of hesitation," said owner Chuck Mooty. "Nobody's willing to kind of step it up because nobody knows when the bottom is gonna hit yet."
And there's not much politicians can do to change that, according to John Challenger, who runs Challenger, Grey & Christmas, a large job placement firm.
"There's not one sort of proposal any of these people can offer that means our economy's going to become instantly competitive and create lots of jobs," Challenger said.
What they can do, he said, is help to create an environment where businesses feel more confident. Streamlining regulations, for example, as Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and several other Republican candidates have proposed.
"Understanding how the economy works by having worked in the real economy is finally essential in the White House," Romney said on the campaign trail, "and I hope people recognize that."
Texas Gov. Rick Perry went a step further Monday, proposing a six-month moratorium on burdensome regulations.
"We need to be freeing this country from over-regulation," said Perry. "We need to be freeing this country from over-taxation."
Challenger said a six-month ban probably wouldn't do much.
"Certainly there's some risk that if it's just six months, what happens when the six months is over and you've guessed wrong?" he asked.
(At left, watch a report on the president's Midwest tour)
"That's something we could do right now," he said on his bus tour.
Challenger said those moves could help to pump money into a sluggish economy even if they don't create many jobs.
"What it does do is it puts income into the hands of people who have high propensity to spend," he said.
Even some conservative economists are now proposing more stimulus as a way to get the economy moving again, but that sets up a tough choice for lawmakers between lowering the unemployment rate and raising the deficit.