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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"That Sinking Feeling"

The administration, through its actions, is now viewed more as an ally of big banks than as an ally of ordinary people. "Employment never seemed to be the top priority" is a good characterization of the problem:

That Sinking Feeling, by Bob Herbert, Commentary, NY Times: Barack Obama seems to think he’s done a pretty terrific job as president, but maybe he hasn’t trumpeted his accomplishments effectively enough. ...
The president and his party may have racked up one legislative victory after another — on the bank bailouts, the stimulus package, the health care bill, and so forth — but ordinary Americans do not feel as if their lives or their prospects are improving. And they don’t think it’s a public relations problem. ...
The voter unrest that is manifesting itself in myriad (and often peculiar) ways reflects a real fear that not just family finances but the country itself is in a state of decline. ... Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have come to grips with this fear, although the Republicans have done yeoman’s work exploiting it. ...
Job creation was the most important issue. ... Employment never seemed to be the top priority. What ordinary voters see is an economy that is not working for them and an increasingly dismal outlook for their children. From that perspective, the enormous budget deficits don’t seem to be providing much of a tangible return. ...
However the elections turn out, the Obama administration needs to begin focusing much more intently on the economic plight of ordinary Americans. Nearly 44 million are living in poverty. ... Job security and benefits like paid vacations, health insurance and a secure retirement are going the way of the typewriter. More than 11 million new jobs would have to be created just to get us back to where we were when the Great Recession began. No one sees that happening anytime soon.
Democrats are in trouble because they have not been nearly aggressive enough in confronting this profound economic crisis facing so many millions of ordinary Americans.

A no holds barred fight for a jobs program, win or lose, would have helped a lot. More generally, another round of stimulus labeled not as stimulus, but as a "household bailout" package and specifically directed at household needs might have helped to convince people that the government cares about them too. Though Obama would never support this -- if banks say something scares them he backs off -- funding the program through a one time clawback tax on the record earnings in the financial industry, earnings that wouldn't be present without the bailout, might have been helpful as well.

    Posted by on Tuesday, October 19, 2010 at 02:11 AM in Economics, Politics, Unemployment | Permalink  Comments (48)


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