A grim record on jobs
President Barack Obama might find some misguided popular support for his pitch, repeated Monday, to end the Bush tax cuts for “the wealthiest Americans.” But his continuing attempt to blame his presidential predecessor for our nation’s historically abysmal jobs numbers, including an awful record set last week, is an increasingly tough sell.
The president again stretched the definition of “wealthiest” Monday by starting that status at incomes of $250,000. Some of the folks with incomes of more than $250,000, like small-business owners, would likely dispute the notion that they have achieved that distinction.
Even some prominent members of President Obama’s party had been disputing the wisdom of setting the tax-hike bar that low. However, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and third-ranking Senate Democrat Charles Schumer, who both had called for ending the tax cuts at $1 million, not $250,000, fell in line with the president at the lower figure Monday.
While politicians and all Americans can and should debate such numbers across and within party lines, there’s no debating this grim economic statistic:
The U.S. unemployment rate has now been at least 8 percent for 41 months — the first time that’s happened since the Depression. That sad record was confirmed Friday by the news that June’s unemployment level was 8.2 percent, the same as May’s.
And the jobless rate would be significantly higher if millions of Americans had not given up on finding work, leaving the potential labor force in the despairing process.
President Obama has repeatedly pointed out, with fittingly declining political effectiveness, that he inherited a freefalling economy from President George W. Bush.
Yet when any presidency of 41 full months produces at least 8 percent unemployment in every one of them, it’s fair to remind the incumbent that it’s his economy now, whether he likes it or not.
Certainly looming Republican White House nominee Mitt Romney has been assigning fair blame to the president for the persisting “jobless recovery.”
And while Mr. Romney was still on vacation Monday, his spokeswoman Andrea Saul offered this apt response to President Obama’s new variation on “soak the rich”:
“The president’s latest bad idea is to raise taxes on families, job creators and small businesses. Almost half a million fewer Americans are working today than the day Barack Obama took office, and we’ve just come through the worst job creation quarter in two years. Unlike President Obama, Governor Romney understands that the last thing we need to do in this economy is raise taxes on anyone.”
Still, just as President Obama shouldn’t dwell on the negative aspects of his opponent’s record, neither should Mr. Romney. He must offer a positive plan for how he intends to get, and keep, the economy back on track.
Conservatives predictably like the sound of Mr. Romney’s general promises to reduce job-killing government regulations and taxes.
But voters need more specifics on how he intends to simultaneously reduce taxes and unsustainable federal deficits.
And both presidential candidates need to chart a detailed, convincing course of how we can finally snap this 41-month losing streak of 8 percent — or worse — unemployment.