A real recovery shouldnt be jobless
Economic numbers pack a political punch — especially during election years. So it’s no surprise to hear President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney offering widely divergent assessments of where the U.S. economy is, how it got there and how they plan to make it better.
But long after the votes are counted in November, the White House winner must find a way to remove the depressing modifier from our relentlessly “jobless recovery.”
More grim evidence of lingering high unemployment came last Friday when the Labor Department released May’s statistics. The addition of a mere 69,000 jobs that month was far fewer than expected. Revised jobs-added figures from March and April also were lower than previously reported.
More bad news: The unemployment rate rose from 8.1 to 8.2 percent in May — the first increase since last June. Though quite high by historic standards, that jobless level would be even higher if many unemployed Americans hadn’t given up on finding work over the last few years as the U.S. labor force suffered a protracted contraction.
Mr. Obama keeps trying to deflect responsibility for such lackluster results by blaming not just his presidential predecessor but current congressional Republicans.
In fairness, President Obama did inherit an economy in a tailspin five months after the mortgage-market meltdown triggered widespread financial chaos.
However, he has now been president for nearly three and a half years. His fellow Democrats have controlled the Senate for nearly the last five and a half years. And while the Republicans have run the House since early 2011, Democrats ran it for four straight years before that.
Thus, President Obama’s continued attempts to blame Republicans past and present for our intolerably weak jobs market simply don’t ring true.
Neither does his “growth vs. austerity” campaign pitch.
Are we to believe that the president’s 2009 stimulus package failed to produce enough jobs because its stunning $787 billion cost was too low?
Should we double down on record deficits that will have added more than $5 trillion to the national debt during his first four years as president?
As for the new claim that spending has climbed at a lower rate under President Obama than it did under President George W. Bush, it’s based on fuzzy math. That contention assigns all of the federal spending during fiscal year 2009 to the Bush administration, including that massive Obama stimulus package.
Yet President Obama is not the only candidate who has to convince voters that he knows how to jump-start this stubbornly sluggish recovery. And whoever is sworn in as president next January must also find a way to slow the flood of federal red ink.
Mr. Romney, like Mr. Obama, has to do more than lament our ongoing economic plight and trace its persistence to the political opposition.
Mr. Romney must explain how he would significantly reduce real unemployment — and significantly reduce really unsustainable deficits.
At least there has been this bit of good economic news lately: The average U.S. price of gas has dropped for nine straight weeks.
Now if we could just drop that first word from our “jobless recovery.”