“Jobs” seem to be the subject everyone wants to talk about … finally! With the ridiculous distraction of the debt ceiling’s national hostage taking, one might have thought that jobs had passed from relevancy.
Only a few months before that, the fiasco distraction was the budget deficit, the Ryan Plan and how to prevent taxes from being raised on the wealthy so that Social Security and Medicare can be dismantled. And jobs?
In Florida, with an unemployment rate around 10.6%, well above the national rate of 9.1%, jobs are a top priority … supposedly … according to Gov. Rick Scott, the “jobs governor.” He (together with the DC Republicans) is the subject of the upcoming second post. For now, let’s consider Obama and his mettle in Washington.
Washington Republicans have been leading the charge in creating a new focus of discussion inside the Beltway. They have succeeded in making sure that “jobs” is only a convenient cudgel for use on opponents, an issue miraculously solved when their narrow agenda on debt and deficits is realized. Republicans have changed the topic of conversation, true enough, but Congress’s poll numbers remain so low that one wonders who the people are that actually “approve” of what Congress is doing, and if polled respondents from the insane asylum were over-sampled. Their “new direction” still fails to address what the rest of the nation sees as primary, jobs (!), further stoking popular frustration.
President Obama is the nation’s chief executive, and despite the frightening idiocy and pathological hostility of the Republicans with whom he must negotiate, the jobs question remains a millstone around his neck. The President’s announcement that he plans on making an announcement is an announcement that needed to be announced, because there is a holiday weekend screwing up the media cycle. After Labor Day, he will discuss his plans for creating up to 1,000,000 new jobs. This is great news, of course, but no one has a clue how he can achieve it.
Facing the same snarling pit bulls in the Republican House majority, getting funds for any initiatives will cost an arm, or a leg, maybe both, plus a butt cheek. Funds for jobs will mean cuts elsewhere, plus the Tea-spouting hounds from hell will have to agree that the cuts don’t impinge on their agenda. For example: “Don’t cut that over-priced, corporate welfare defense contract that could put people in my district on unemployment. Take it from poor people, the unemployed, the elderly, the unions, the sick, the government workers, or the children, in other words those people who either don’t vote or won’t vote for us anyway.”
Obama’s addition of Alan Krueger to head the Council of Economic Advisers is seen as one response to re-emphasizing jobs since Krueger has extensive background in labor economics. A highly respected economist who has served in high level government positions before, Krueger is well qualified but there are doubts about whether he is the right guy for the job, specializing in the wrong area or lacking the broad scope for the depth of the problem. Still, it is hard to see how this appointment impacts the political equation for any Obama initiative.
The temporary decrease in the payroll tax for workers expires in December, but no doubt any extension of this minor help for workers will be coupled by Republicans seeking a comparable decrease for employers who didn’t share the break. Expect the president to advocate its continuation, perhaps already surrendering to the demand for a break for employers in order to keep the break for workers. Great.
Other talk around the edges has concerned new infrastructure spending which is certainly warranted and would be beneficial, but whither the funds and at what offsetting cost? Also, the carrot of corporate tax credits for job creation is being dangled, but if it requires spending cuts elsewhere, it would most likely be counter-productive. Count on Republicans once again to turn any carrot into a stick to beat up Obama and turn his plan into a piñata.
The notion that the new Congressional super-committee is somehow going to help on the jobs front seems induced by bad mushrooms, and while help for the many of us underwater on mortgages is long overdue, it seems like tricky waters for executive action alone.
Altogether, it is hard to see anything bold on this horizon, leaving this comment feeling about right:
“Will he [Obama] commit all his energy to offering bold solutions, or will he continue to work with the tea party?” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said at a recent breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, adding: “If he falls into nibbling around the edges, history will judge him and working people will judge him.”
This is why Trumka sounds on target:
“There will be plenty of reasons for people on both sides of the aisle to like [what the President proposes],” said Josh Earnest, the deputy White House press secretary.
Oh, more crap.
More may be expected from the Federal Reserve in September than from the White House, despite the non-committal remarks of Chairman Bernanke recently in Jackson Hole. We should always bear in mind that employment is a primary Fed mission area. From the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee notes:
In the discussion of monetary policy for the period ahead, most members agreed that the economic outlook had deteriorated by enough to warrant a Committee response at this meeting. [Emphasis added]
Fed action may not grab headlines or imaginations, but their actions may have greater impact. They could even act boldly and not have to deal with Tea-drunk Republicans, however there is little indication that the Fed has any such inclination to decisive action.
On the whole, it only seems reasonable to expect more of the same, much as Trumka stated above. Obama’s efforts are simply aimed at coping … but oh, to be proven wrong. That may be all that he can do practically, yet we have always expected and continue to expect something more audacious from this brilliant man. In disappointment, we’re left with his practical, appeasing, uninspiring and unimaginative audacity to cope.