President Obama appeared in the Rose Garden this morning to respond to the dismal jobs report (Baker; more here from Konczal) that showed unemployment rising to 9.2 percent over 18 months after the recession supposedly ended. He responded by not mentioning that number or grappling with what it means.
Instead, he continued the excuses and pseudo-economic gibberish that makes sense only to Tea-GOP Zombies and which explains why we’ve made virtually no progress in regaining the jobs we lost. He no longer has a meaningful jobs program but is instead clinging to confidence fairies and expansionary austerity unicorns, which are even less helpful than guns and bibles. It has become pathological.
Misjudging the situation and denying responsibility have become the trademarks of Mr. Obama’s economic record. And so our economy remains at risk, not only because it’s under unrelenting assault by economic Luddites but because he keeps his head in the sands of Tea-GOP talking points.
The only honest response Mr. Obama could have given would be an admission that his employment recovery plans had failed. Tim Geithner and Ben Bernanke saved the banks, for now, and our slanted tax laws and trade agreement outsourcing saved large corporations who are now sitting on nearly $2 trillion in unspent, uninvested funds.
That $2 trillion is about what the economy needs to put a large chunk of the jobless back to work. But there’s no one left in this Administration who either cares or knows how to refocus the nation’s vast wealth to save desperate states, under- and unemployed workers, the uninsured and everyone else in desperate need.
Obama conceded during the twitter event that he and his advisers underestimated the severity of the Great Recession he inherited. Fair enough; lots of smart people did. The last two administrations created the reckless conditions for a housing bubble, financial collapse and an economic depression, and it almost happened. But what are the implications of that truth?
If he realized only a few months into his term that the assumptions on which he made fiscal stimulus judgments were far too optimistic, why was there no mid-course correction, no enhanced effort to expand the economy, no major jobs program to relieve the predictable suffering while we recovered from this barely averted depression? Even Mitt Romney can figure that out, and he will by 2012.
Obama doesn’t want us to think about that, because it would warrant his resignation. So a compliant media is conveniently selling the cover story, telling us the issue is whether the elite who now function independently of any democratic accountability can agree to cut $3 or $4 trillion from the debt.
If the negotiators can reach a “grand bargain,” we are supposed to view this is a great accomplishment. It’s hard to imagine a more absurd or harmful misdirection.
What they’re not telling us is that they’ve already failed. They slashed the last two budgets by hundreds of billions of needed spending and are preventing hundreds of billions more in the next budgets, even before the talks start. That’s the money that should have been devoted to rescuing main street, which once healthy, would help take care of much of the deficit.
America is not broke. It has enormous resources. It remains the most fabulously wealthy nation the world has ever known. But our President and his new Tea-GOP negotiating friends don’t have the heart, the brains or the imagination to figure out how to make that wealth work fairly for the vast majority of Americans. The solutions on Joe Biden’s table, like those on Mr. Obama’s, take care of only those who don’t need help.
So, yeah, count me in for refusing to vote for any of these scoundrels if they vote to cut Social Security benefits. We should all sign up. But that’s a depressingly low bar for deserving our support.
If these people continue to ignore the country’s needs and still leave anywhere close to 14 million unemployed in 2012, I’ll work to fire every one of them, whether or not they “save” Social Security from their mindless deficit hysteria.