While President Obama has been using his weekly radio address to slam Republican “obstructionism,” he ignores the fact that his policies have been abject failures. He sees “progress” in weak economic numbers and appears to be operating in some bizarre bubble of optimism. During the recent G-20 summit in Toronto, Obama’s call for more spending fell on deaf ears. To underscore the problem, these were the deaf ears of the European welfare states. It cannot get much worse than that!
Nowhere is the case more obvious than in the current debate over extending unemployment benefits. In February, Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning was held up to ridicule and portrayed as a crackpot and curmudgeon for his stance against extending benefits then. In typical Democratic fashion, he- and therefore all Republicans- were portrayed as being against working men and women. That in and of itself is an oxymoronic statement since the unemployed are, by definition, not “working.” But, I think both sides can agree that there are now 15 million largely innocent people out of work, caught in the economic maelstrom largely outside their control. To assert that Republicans dismiss their pain in the name of “obstructionist politics” is erroneous political grandstanding at best and class warfare at worse.
The most recent unemployment numbers for June are dismal. Just to stabilize the unemployment rate, economists estimate that the economy needs to create 150,000 jobs monthly. The economy gained about 83,000 jobs in June. This is dismal to say the least. Start with the numbers, of the overall amount of jobs shed in June (125,000), 225,000 were temporary census workers. In short, the economy gained about 100,000 jobs. But look at where they were. About 46,000 (more than half) were in the professional sector, BUT about 23,000 of them were simply temporary positions. More importantly, to underscore the failures of Obamanomics, construction lost 22,000 which doesn’t say much for his touted Summer of Stimulus Spending. Remember that we were sold on the fact that this money would go towards improving our infrastructure which requires construction workers. Yet, we LOSE 22,000 construction jobs? We also lost 15,000 jobs in the financial sector as Congress debates financial reform that will see the loss of more jobs and flight of capital overseas. The economy lost 8,000 state and local employee jobs in June also. This only underscores the percolating state and local government financial implosion IF they don’t shed even more jobs.
Elsewhere, although production is up, it has to be. If you are creating the same thing- which isn’t much- with less people, of course production goes up. But with inventories largely holding steady in June, there is no reason to hire additional workers. With the expiration of tax credits for home sales, they have decreased which shows that the underlying housing market remains weak. While consumer spending may be up slightly, consumer confidence is down even more. After 16 months of stock market gains, the market has lost 9% of its value in the past nine days alone. Factory orders are down 1.4% while the average work week has decreased and average hourly earnings also decreased in June. No matter how you look at it, these numbers are ugly and bleak with potential to get worse. In short, come fall, there will be more people joing those already unemployed.
But, I have a proposal…actually, a challenge to the Democratic Party. Since they are the banner-bearers of the unemployed and of the working class, since the money has already been appropriated and little can be done about it now, why can’t we divert the needed $34 billion for unemployment extensions through November from unspent stimulus funds? A good starting point would be to take from the Obama wet dream scenario of a “green economy” spending and put that money towards unemployment. We hear them say that this spending is an investment in our future- that it will create high-paying jobs right here in the United States. Really? How many jobs have been created in the brave new world of the “green economy?” The simple fact is that there is no green economy without government subsidies. Green energy is simply not cost-effective and could not exist in a free and open market- plain and simple. So lets take that money and apply it to the very real unemployed American citizens now! If there isn’t enough there, how about scaling back on agricultural subsidies and price supports. I think that between these two items alone, we should have enough money to extend unemployment benefits for the currently unemployed through November, probably pay for war funding in Afghanistan, and have a couple billion left over for deficit reduction. Do we invest in a pipe dream or agribusinesses? Or do we invest in the unemployed? Force the Democrats to make a choice and see where they stand then.