Ed Balls's plan to fund employment for workers who have been out of work for two years through reducing pension tax relief for people paid over £150,000 a year is far too timid.
The shadow chancellor has a rhetorical case to make, explaining that his previous demand that the government should use this cash to avoid pressing ahead with its tax credit rise has been superseded by its implementation.
But, if Labour restricts its response to the conservative coalition's slash-and-burn approach to periodic suggestions about what reducing pension tax relief for the highest earners could finance, it provides no lead whatsoever.
Labour's plan to pay the minimum wage to participants would offer little more than work experience.
Were that not the case, unscrupulous employers would be getting the government to fund replacement of their existing workforce by long-term jobless.
Balls does not suggest any penalty for bosses who behave in this dishonest way, but he feels the need to threaten unemployed workers with benefit sanctions if they do not engage in a constant search for work and accept any jobs offered.
This is the classical formula shared by all Establishment politicians of blaming the unemployed for not having a job.
The reason that there are officially around three million workers on unemployment lists - the real total is much higher - is that the jobs aren't out there and neither new Labour nor the Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition accepts responsibility for job creation.
Simply tweaking the system by schemes that are little more than short-term gimmicks comes nowhere near what is necessary to kick-start the economy.
Balls talks the talk, recognising that there is little confidence about, following a double-dip recession and a doubling of long-term unemployment.
However, he needs to move from merely matching the Tories' meaningless chatter to pledging real action to fund economic growth and job creation.
Labour's leadership is paranoid that the Tories and Liberal Democrats will have a field day, backed up by in-house snipers such as Peter Mandelson, painting Balls and Ed Miliband as borrow-and-spend fanatics.
Such a picture, if sustained, would threaten Britain's AAA credit rating, pushing up the cost of borrowing, say the City mouthpieces.
But the US lost its top rating with no adverse effect on borrowing costs because international markets were confident that their bonds would be honoured.
There is little reason to suspect that Britain would be different, especially if a Labour government was switching the burden of taxation from the workers and the poor to big business and the rich and it was investing directly in the economy to build council houses, modernise the infrastructure and expand public ownership.
Labour's leadership has ceded the initiative to the governing coalition over tax avoidance, allowing those who have grown richer still by giving taxation a body swerve to pay lip service to tackling avoidance and evasion.
The coalition parties played a similar trick before the general election, warning how tough they would be against the banks, but it was just words.
Why should David Cameron tackle offshore tax avoidance - still legal, remember - when his own family benefited substantially from it?
The two Eds have to be bold in their plans for the economy and jobs. Otherwise, they'll either lose at the next election or win on a programme that will do nothing to transform working people's existence.
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