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Obama Jilts the Jobless

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Posted on Apr 12, 2011
White House/Pete Souza

Hey Mr. President, here’s a hint: Obama walks through Lafayette Square with Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Chief of Staff Bill Daley, and National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 7.

By Bill Boyarsky

In his eagerness to compromise with the Republican right, President Barack Obama has forgotten the still-suffering victims of the recession: the long-term unemployed who range from the poorest Americans to those barely holding on to their place in the middle class.

Any mention of them was absent from the celebration of last weekend’s stopgap budget deal, with its $38 million in cuts, except for a brief acknowledgement by Obama on Saturday that “[s]ome of the cuts we agreed to will be painful—programs people rely on will be cut back; needed infrastructure projects will be delayed.”

In the current budget debate, only a few are speaking up strongly for the disenfranchised. One is Democratic Rep. George Miller of California, who said: “The American people have been told the agreement contains both ‘historic’ and ‘painful’ cuts. The question will be painful for whom. Poor and middle class families have already received more than their fair share of pain in this economy while the wealthy and special interests have paid no price.”

The March unemployment figures show who will feel the pain. While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a modest growth in jobs, the national unemployment rate was 8.8 percent. And the number of long-term unemployed—those seeking work for 27 weeks or more—remained the same, as did the total of those classified as “discouraged workers,” people who have given up on finding a job.

These discouraged workers and their families remain a miserable legacy of the recession. Years of unemployment have pushed many down from the middle class toward poverty. The pain from that fall will extend to the next generation, to children denied a chance for the advanced education and training needed to compete for jobs. This is an economic and psychic blow to a large segment of our population.

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As Chad Stone, chief economist of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, wrote: “Immediate sharp cuts in government spending of the kind that some policymakers are seeking will make it even harder to restore a healthy job market. We have to create over 7.2 million jobs just to get payroll employment back to its level at the start of the recession in December 2007. At March’s rate of 216,000 jobs a month, that would take almost three years.”

And, he noted, “It remains very difficult to find a job.”

The stopgap spending-cut measure signed by Obama over the weekend doesn’t head in that direction. For example, it reduced by $1.5 billion the money going to high-speed and interstate rail projects, once major job creators in the Obama arsenal. Don’t expect the main agreement he reached with the Republicans over the weekend to be much better when details come out.

Looking toward his 2012 re-election campaign, the president has embraced the Republican budget-cutting line. Even though he is proposing a tax increase for the very rich, he has bought into the Republican narrative that immediate slashing of the deficit is the nation’s most important task. 

Just how radical are the Republican plans? Take a look at the proposal of Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, which includes elimination of Medicare and its replacement by government vouchers to help Americans purchase health insurance from private companies. The core of Ryan’s proposal is another massive tax reduction for the wealthy. The president and his campaign team apparently aim to run against the Ryan plan by portraying Obama as a sensible budget cutter, an economizer with a heart. If this can be combined with a modest economic recovery and a weak Republican opponent, the Democrats believe they will win next year. But counting on a weak opponent is no way to win an election, nor is fighting on the opposition’s turf.

Rather, the president should think of those who need help—and those who don’t. In addition to restoring taxes back to the levels of the prosperous Clinton years, he should propose closing the gaping loopholes and giveaways in the tax system. Spending cuts should be phased in over a number of years. These actions would reduce the deficit.

Most of all, the president should provide help for the unemployed millions. Creating jobs should be the nation’s first priority, rather than hacking away at government spending just as a modest recovery may be beginning.

The 2012 re-election campaign seemed to be paramount in Obama’s mind as he spoke to the nation. His words have had the sound of being filtered and heavily vetted, shaped by too many polls and having gone through too many staff meetings. He acts like a candidate afraid of losing.

There is no doubt that Obama should be re-elected. A Republican president, backed by a Republican Congress, would turn the country into another Wisconsin.

But I want to see leadership, resolve and a reflection of Obama’s social conscience. It’s hard to rally behind a man who appears willing to give up his principles in order to keep his job.



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By Korky Day, May 30, 2011 at 7:44 am Link to this comment

No forced unemployment is acceptable.
That’s what Franklin Roosevelt said in 1944.
Not the current actual 25%, not 7%, not 5%, not 1%.
I wrote the affordable plan for Guaranteed Jobs.
My web site korky.ca is temporarily broken, so write me for the plan:
korkyday (at sign) yahoo (dot) com

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Hollywood Russ's avatar

By Hollywood Russ, May 29, 2011 at 1:22 pm Link to this comment

I agree that jobs should be the number 1 priority on Obama’s to-do list. Let’s
remember that an acceptable level of unemployment is 7 percent. Economies can
grow just fine at 7 percent, and they usually do. People got spoiled by the
unbridled prosperity of the Clinton years, with less than 5 percent unemployment
was the norm. We’re back to the real world. The seven percent line is a profound
marker of recovery when an economy can say, We’ve got jobs. Come and get them.
Let’s just hope that the greed of Wall Street and the Bankers doesn’t ruin our
fragile recovery. They need to earn money on loans and investments, not fees.

Report this

By tedmurphy41, April 14, 2011 at 5:35 am Link to this comment

President Obama has been an unmitigated disaster, plain and simple.
His pre-Presidential hype of “We Can” has turned into “I Can’t”.
When it comes to nominating a Democratic candidate to stand for President of the United States, give Barak Obama what he justly deserves, the bum’s rush.

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By Christine, April 13, 2011 at 11:55 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Doesn’t anyone get it?  . . . . Obama is not a leader. (I voted and campaigned for the man. Cried on inauguration day—- etc.)  He has screwed the middle class and cares less for the poor.  Wake up everyone.  We are moving toward a third world nation.  I hope the Reps take over for spite!  We are doomed either way!

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By faith, April 13, 2011 at 5:59 pm Link to this comment

Oops, meant to link to your comment. Sorry.  Just wanted to say that the
economists are giving us all the facts because Obama hand chose them.  I am
specifically talking about Geithner, Summers, Bernanke, formerly Paulson.  It is
just unbelievable.  For further information on what our “economic leaders” are
thinking and facilitating, read Matt Taibi’s two articles in RollingStone,  newest is
“The Real Housewives of Wall Street”, the first one was titled, “Why Isn’t Wall Street
in Jail”.  You can read them on line.

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MK Ultra's avatar

By MK Ultra, April 13, 2011 at 5:24 pm Link to this comment

No wonder the Repugs have no presidential candidate and don’t seem to be in a hurry to find one either.  In Obama they have found the perfect Republican.

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By Salome, April 13, 2011 at 4:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Oh, what short memories Americans have!  I recall that Pres. Obama did something that he definitely did not want to do when, in December, he extended the Bush tax cuts.  He did that in exchange for continuing unemployment benefits for the 99ers.  Rmemeber?

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By c.d.embrey, April 13, 2011 at 4:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If Obama really cared, he would have given us real a real Stimulus Package
with a lot more money to implement it. Instead we got tax cuts.

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By MickNamVet, April 13, 2011 at 2:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When Pres. Obama was running for office, I distinctly remember him saying that he would fight for the rights of the middle and working class and the disenfranchized, even if it meant not running for re-election again.  But what we have before us is Obama declaring his candidacy again, having completely ignored (or conveniently glossed over) the rights of the middle and working class, and totally forgotten the disenfranchised of our country.  His recent caper with the budget was like watching a heavyweight championship boxing match, where the champ takes a fall in the first round. And we the voters all know, to our utter dismay, that “the fix is in” for future matches also with “The Caver.”

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By TheHandyman, April 13, 2011 at 1:46 pm Link to this comment

Principles. Principles? I ain’t got to show you no PRINCIPLES, I am a pragmatist! When my principles are challenged I roll over on my back a pee on myself. Only an idiot would think that trading something good and necessary for something that has as its sole purpose the destruction of this country is cooperation and Obysmal wants more of it! Once again, Ralph Nader looks like an old testament prophet for predicting that this was exactly what the old white guy in a blackman’s skin would do!

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BJM42's avatar

By BJM42, April 13, 2011 at 1:09 pm Link to this comment

“We have to create over 7.2 million jobs just to get
payroll employment back to its level at the start of
the recession in December 2007. At March’s rate of
216,000 jobs a month, that would take almost three
years.”

This statement assumes that there is no growth in the
workforce.  If that is taken into account, it would
take SIX years, not three to get back to the December
2007 employment level!  Why is it economists seem to
never tell the whole truth?

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By berniem, April 13, 2011 at 12:53 pm Link to this comment

A billion dollar war chest will not guarentee Obama’s re-election if I or many others are asked! Unfortunately, even if he loses this job, he will in no way find himself in the dire straits currently faced by so many who actually believed his BS!

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By Korky Day, April 13, 2011 at 12:00 pm Link to this comment

Obama is a constitutional lawyer.
Why isn’t he proposing constitutional amendments to make the country a democracy? 
Instead we have a 2-party system. 
We need pro-rep (proportional representation), national referenda, etc.
Vote Green Party.
http://www.korky.ca

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By question, April 13, 2011 at 11:55 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Excellent article BUT:  I heartily disagree that Obama should be re-elected.  Whatever else he is, he is not a strong Democratic champion of the working-class, so what difference does it make?  Either GOP straight or with soda…same hangover.

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zonth_zonth's avatar

By zonth_zonth, April 13, 2011 at 7:52 am Link to this comment

I wonder what % of US voting is for the ‘lesser of two evils’.  Yet another poster (Jim) ackknowledged he voted for Clinton to ward off Republicans.  Thus this lesser of two evils is not new.  I think it has been going on for several cycles now.

A contiual lesser of two evils schema I think necessitates a major political overhall….MULTIPLE PARTIES.  Until people can actually vote with conviction and not to nullify another party, than it is not a political schema worth fighting for.

I foresee Obama winning again in 2012 as a lesser of two evils.

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By jack boas, April 13, 2011 at 2:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

OBama doesn’t deserve to be re-elected. Everything that’s gone wrong is due to
his utter spinelessness. He’s also signed on to all of Bush’s policies and then some
—more drones, for example. He condones torture (Charley Manning), keeps
chipping away at our civil rights and the safety net for the poor and middle class.
He’s surrounded himself with corporate chieftains and robber barons and does
their bidding. In his campaign he said he’d put on some comfy shoes and walk the
picket line with the workers should their rights be violated. Last time he was seen
he was wearing golf shoes. I voted for him. Fool me once… No mas.

Report this

By jack boas, April 13, 2011 at 2:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

OBama doesn’t deserve to be re-elected. Everything that’s gone wrong is due to
his utter spineless. He’s also signed on to all of Bush’s policies and then some—
more drones, for example. He condones torture (Charley Manning), keeps
chipping away at our civil rights and the safety net for the poor and middle class.
He’s surrounded himself with corporate chieftains and robber barons and does
their bidding. In his campaign he said he’d put on some comfy shoes and walk the
picket line with the workers should their rights be violated. Last time he was seen
he was wearing golf shoes. I voted for him. Fool me once… No mas.

Report this
entropy2's avatar

By entropy2, April 12, 2011 at 9:38 pm Link to this comment

@Maani - No one’s blaming BHO personally for unemployment…we’re blaming him because neither he nor his party stands up to the elite and fights for us.

Only when they are in dire danger of losing their jobs do they worry about ours.

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By TDoff, April 12, 2011 at 8:41 pm Link to this comment

Not taking care of the jobless seems like yet another large error for our president, since he may soon become one of them, however briefly. I sure hope he has had the foresight to tuck away a rainy-day kitty, to tide him over during the interval it will take for him to take over as Chief of Staff for the Mayor of Chicago, after he loses his re-election campaign in 2012.
It seemed impossible in ‘07 and ‘08, but he is rapidly sinking to a nadir which may leave him a lesser candidate than any of his opponents, which is a very deep pit indeed in the pile of crap that US politics has become.
But, looking back with nostalgia, he sure was one helluva shucker-and-jiver, wasn’t he!?

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By Flummox, April 12, 2011 at 5:50 pm Link to this comment

As a contributor to the shape of public opinion Boyarsky is a kind of stenographer. He is reciting what the Democrats want to say, and beyond that doesn’t seem to have very much to add to public discourse.

Unfortunately the bill of goods Boyarsky is selling sounds like a lifetime of cowardice and stagnation here on the left. Who could possibly buy into this? Is the state Boyarsky describes, wracked by fear and praying that Obama makes better choices, what it means to be ‘pragmatic’? I want none of it.

All that can be added is Boyarsky is thoroughly wrong, there is a lot of doubt that Obama should be re-elected, and arguably not enough.

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By Jim Yell, April 12, 2011 at 5:17 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am deeply disappointed in Obama and can only explain his behavior by believing that he lied to us about his goals and beliefs. At lest with Clinton he had a record which revealed his collusion with business and I voted for Clinton because I couldn’t imagine another republican adminstration, and hoped Clinton would at lest tend to be moderate. Sadly while in many ways he was adequate, he did things that fell into line with the Republican move to distroy the country and must bare some of the blame for the deregulation that lead to Bush and to our economic depression.

Obama what can we say, told us he would reform the government and instead has turned it over to the Republicans without a fight. I think he lied.

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By Maani, April 12, 2011 at 5:12 pm Link to this comment

As of last Friday, I have been mostly unemployed for three years (i.e., I have had occasionally, short-term work, but have been living mostly on unemployment and help from family), despite actively seeking full-time work during that entire period.  And I have my problems with Obama (who I did not originally support), and think he could certainly be doing more and better.

But I do not blame HIM - at least not primarily - for my situation.  There are MANY factors that are contributing to the “long-term unemployed” situation, and Obama’s spinelessness is only one of them.

To suggest that blame should be laid at Obama’s feet is at best disingenuous and incorrect, and at worst propagandistic.

Peace.

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By amex, April 12, 2011 at 5:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The worst thing we could do is give the changeling another 4 years in office.  His hypnotic voice lures you into another chance for him and then he just becomes the rich taker again, bent on screwing the middle class again.

You will never get another vote from me o’bummer and it I could do something about it, you would be impeached and indicted for crimes against the constitution.  And I’m a democrat!!!

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By gerard, April 12, 2011 at 4:54 pm Link to this comment

“A Republican president, backed by a Republican Congress, would turn the country into another Wisconsin.”
  We may have to come to that before “the American people”—whoever they are???—realize where we’re at. 
  I can think of worse things than large number of ordinary citizens coming together and organizing a consistent, determined protest to stop the outrageous waste of their tax money on wars and economic exploitation.  It might be a good idea to have a massive nationwide shout-out in order to maintain ordinary people’s legal and ethical rights to jobs at a living wage, with health care and social security, to good public education for their kids, and to the right not to have their partially-paid-for homes snatched by greedy and lawless gamblers. 
  Wisconsin was a breath of hope and fresh air.

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By prisnersdilema, April 12, 2011 at 4:25 pm Link to this comment

Well, it looks like, we’re going to get the country turned into another Wisconsin anyway, no matter who is elected.

Because the Big O, is too gutless to do anything to stand in the way of the criminal republican class, and their plans to turn this country into the 4th Reich.

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By Angelicrisis, April 12, 2011 at 4:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

True, but in all reality a republican president would make things worse, I would bank on an independant   (unrealistic I know.) The GOP and Dems..the same entity.

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By Mike Strong, April 12, 2011 at 3:57 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Even throwing the Wisconsin governor at me won’t get me to vote for Obama again. My choice was Cynthia McKinney but there was no way that was going to happen. With strategy learned at the last two votes I thought I needed to vote the most viable winner who wasn’t Republican otherwise I would be wasting my vote or pulling into another Nadir-in-2000 diversion. Well, that went south.

Worse than wasting my vote, Obama didn’t just throw away my vote, he betrayed my vote and made me realize that for the first time, it really made no difference at all who I voted for in one of the two major parties.

So, next time, I go back to voting for the person I want most, regardless of chance to win or how horrific the “other” (is there an “other?”) party’s candidate is. I would rather waste my vote where I want it than have my vote so thoroughly betrayed.

What seems clear to me now is that Barack Obama was literally bought way before the campaign was even over. Probably a lot earlier than that. All I can think of is the horridly ugly image of blacks after the civil war, some of whom where put in place by former slave owners who weren’t allowed to have public office themselves but used the newly freed men as hirelings in office. Not a nice thing to say (or think) but it is the image I’ve begun holding in my head about President Obama. Window dressing on a very dirty window.

And to think what we lost out on, in McKinney, someone with real backbone, sense of morals and who personally really puts herself on the line. (Remember the boats to Gaza?) That is what we need.

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By entropy2, April 12, 2011 at 3:19 pm Link to this comment

There is no doubt that Obama should be re-elected. A Republican president, backed by a Republican Congress, would turn the country into another Wisconsin.

This is the attitude that BHO and his merry corporatist band are *banking* on. And exactly why he will know he can sell the working class down the river…yet again.

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