Last Friday’s job numbers about settled the debate over President Obama’s economic policy — it stinks. About 18,000 jobs were created; not even a tenth of what is needed to sustain the economy. The unemployment rate is at a charitable 9.2 percent, but that’s far less than what it really is. Absent from those numbers are those who are no longer searching for work or working for $10 an hour or less. Under President Obama’s watch, huge numbers of laid off workers in their 40s and 50s are facing the reality of never regaining a highly paid position in their career field. Under this “downsizing of America” it’s not unrealistic to assume that a quarter of Americans are either unemployed or under-employed.
The extra debt that has been accumulated in the past 30 months to “pump up” the economy has not motivated the private sector to hire more workers. Fewer than two-thirds of working-age Americans are working; more than 40 percent of civilian adults within the age of work are not working.
The Democrats’ wish for higher taxes and its strategy of demonizing the rich and business is underscored by the president ignoring a bipartisan debt commission’s recommendation. President Obama had the opportunity to embrace the debt commission proposal that — by 2035 — would have equalized federal outlays with federal tax revenue at 21 percent of GDP. The 21 percent level is higher than historical tax rates. Yet, Obama dissed the commission’s report. That was a big mistake. He could have used his bully pulpit, and public approval of the report, to intimidate the GOP to accept a tax hike that would lead to a balanced budget.
Perhaps the president feels more comfortable with a proposal from the very liberal Center for American Progress that assumes, quite cynically that the U.S. can support tax outlays of 23.8 percent of GDP. That, unfortunately, is a political report, not a bipartisan report, and business won’t respond positively to it. (read)
Both sides share blame in the debt mess, but the president’s lack of leadership on the issue is a bigger obstacle.