President Obama’s approval rate for handling the economy is at its lowest point and that of Congress is even lower, which should indicate a disconnect between the complacency in Washington and what the people on Main Streets are experiencing or seeing around them. “The fixation on the federal deficit has silenced talk of more fiscal stimulus,” the Times said editorially. “But more aid to states could help stanch job loss. Programs that create public-works jobs could be tailored to groups with high unemployment, and job re-training could focus on the long-term unemployed.”
“The economy still needs help and, specifically, a sustained focus on jobs and income. Instead, policy makers are gearing up for deep spending cuts, ignoring the damage they are likely to cause,” the Times said editorially on May Day. “Last quarter, cutbacks by governments at all levels took a chunk out of overall growth. If cuts of similar or greater magnitude become the norm, the slow economic pace of the first quarter also could very well become the norm. It’s nice to believe slowing growth is transitory. But as long as spending, jobs and incomes are at risk and policy priorities are skewed, it’s hard to believe in a turnaround.”
I am not suggesting here that the federal deficit is not a problem but as many able economists have pointed out, big steps to expand the economy, put people back to work, increase both exports and domestic spending – along with some progressive tax increases – would go a long way toward reining it in.
It’s not like nobody in official Washington cares about the jobs situation or is sitting mute in the face of the crisis. For months now members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), organized labor and state and local advocacy groups around the country have raised the alarm and tried to get a message to the White House. But these voices and these efforts have gone relatively unreported by the major mass media – the Times included – caught up as they are in deficit mania.
“It’s critical that policy makers focus on strategies to increase job opportunities instead of promoting deep budget cuts that could unravel the slow and fragile recovery,” said Campbell, the Women’s Law Caucus’ Co-President.
“For the 16th straight month, we have seen growth in private sector jobs – last month being the strongest for job growth since February 2006,” reads a statement by CBC chair Emanuel Cleaver, II. Nevertheless, the overall unemployment rate increased by .2 percent and unemployment in the African American community has increased by .6 percent to a painful 16.1 percent. The fact still remains that millions are still out of work, which is particularly challenging, given the fact that increasingly higher gas prices are putting a strain on every American family.
“After four months of controlling the House, the Republican Leadership has not considered or introduced one single jobs bill. Instead they continue to cut funding to critical programs that directly and negatively impact our country’s most vulnerable communities, costing hundreds of thousands of jobs. I am fearful that reckless spending cuts will severely undermine and prevent recovery for every American community. The CBC remains committed to responsibly reducing the deficit, while safeguarding the progress that we have made in the job market by investing in our future. Investing in our communities goes hand in hand with full economic recovery. No investment, no recovery.”
One could reasonably ask members of Congress and the Administration why there is no “National Commission on Economic Growth and Employment.” Or, why there is no “gang” of six politicians working their tails off to come up with a solution to the nation’s jobs crisis.
Instead we have a concerted campaign, abetted by a pliant media, to maneuver the country into accepting schemes that will actually slow down growth, reducing the number of jobs available in the public sector and increase the precariousness of workers in their retirement years.
And, some might ask why big companies and banks can be rescued while the powers-that-be act as if they have abandoned the jobless as the politicians embark on a frenzy of “deficit reduction.”
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