Conservative Political Commentary

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and usually with an attempt at historical and economic context

Friday, December 4, 2009

Unemployment Problems? Call a “Summit”


“THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION -- NOVEMBER 2009

“The unemployment rate edged down to 10.0 percent in November, and nonfarm payroll employment was essentially unchanged (-11,000), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. In the prior 3 months, payroll job losses had averaged 135,000 a month. In November, employment fell in construction, manufacturing, and information, while temporary help services and health care added jobs.

“Household Survey Data

“In November, both the number of unemployed persons, at 15.4 million, and the unemployment rate, at 10.0 percent, edged down. At the start of the recession in December 2007, the number of unemployed persons was 7.5 million, and the jobless rate was 4.9 percent. …”

The unemployment rate for teenagers was 26.7 percent.

(Source: U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

In advance of the release of these unemployment figures, President Obama announced a “jobs summit,” for which various business and union leaders, and liberal economists have been invited to “brainstorm” and share new ideas.

Stuart Varney of Fox News explains the guest list:



Ben Stein compared the “jobs summit,” appropriately, I think, to President Gerald Ford’s inflation summit. Obama’s PR move is roughly the equivalent of passing out “WIN” (Whip Inflation Now) buttons from the Ford Administration. The Ford people appeared concerned, which no doubt they were, but seemed at a loss to know what to do.
See Ben Stein on video here.

The summit is more of a “dog and pony show” than a substantive effort to create jobs. It truly rings hollow when the President, Nancy Pelosi and company say the government wants to help create jobs, when at the same time they are introducing major job-killing programs, viz., Obamacare and cap and trade. It’s just mind-numbing if you think about it.

Was the best suggestion a government project to winterize homes? One blogger asks this, and calls it “cash for caulkers.”[1]

Here’s an informative report on CBS News from December 3:


Washington Post economics blogger Frank Ahrens states that the “truer” U.S. unemployment rate dropped from 17.5 percent to 17.2 percent, that being the rate that includes “people who want full-time jobs but can only find part-time ones and the unemployed who have become so discouraged that they have given up looking for work.” This is the rate that can be compared to the 25 percent unemployment rate at the nadir of the Great Depression. [2]

Ahrens held a nationwide discussion on unemployment. One participant from Atlanta had this to say: “I run a small business and we are not hiring due to several reasons, but mainly due to the uncertainty in the economy and where the economy will be in the next several years. We have actually downsized to a core group of employees and may downsize further if needed. We won't hire more people until it is in our best interest to do so….

“It is the small businesses in this country that hire most of the people and taxes are killing us. Take some of the remaining stimulus funds and apply those to permanent tax cuts, get the budget balanced and show the business community that you care about doing something real to stimulate the economy, not sending out pork. ….” [3]

That business owner has a good grasp of the problem. Government officials think they are going to be the answer to unemployment, but in a real sense, they are the problem. As Ben Stein suggests in the video referenced above, they are standing on the oxygen hose of the suffering private sector.

President Obama told USA Today, “I will tell you that I think the most important thing I can do for the African-American community is the same thing I can do for the American community, period, and that is get the economy going again and get people hiring again.” He dismissed complaints of the Congressional Black Caucus that the Administration is not doing enough to help African-Americans get jobs. [4] OK, but how are you going to do that? Obama is set to depart on a jobs “listening” tour to get public input. He should be going on a tour telling how he’s going to help solve the problem. It appears he doesn’t know what to do.

Of course, the left is calling on Obama to help by increasing government spending on infrastructure and the like, which would help some workers, but add greatly to the deficit. The deficit severely limits what the government can do at this time, and more government spending is not what’s needed. Nancy Pelosi wants to use the remaining TARP money as another “stimulus.” Keep in mind that this is still money that has to be printed, not money from a pile of cash somewhere in the Capitol.

Republicans held their own forum across town, inviting mostly conservative economists (who were not invited to Obama’s event). One participant, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget office, said “that the single best thing Obama could do to create jobs was ‘to reverse course on a dangerous agenda of debt-financed spending, crippling regulation, expensive mandates, and intrusive government expansion.’” [5]

The liberals are ignoring the elephant in the room, and I don’t mean the GOP, but the Democrats’ own laws and plans that continue to sabotage any real improvement in the unemployment rate.


[1] Aaron Crow, “Obama’s job summit didn’t get to the main issue,” 12/04/2009, WalletPop, at http://www.walletpop.com/blog/2009/12/04/obamas-job-summit-didnt-get-to-the-main-issue/

[2] Frank Ahrens, “Truer U.S. unemployment rate drops to 17.2%,” Washington Post.com, at
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/economy-watch/

[3] Frank Ahrens, “Analysis of Obama’s jobs summit,” Washington Post.com, at
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2009/12/01/DI2009120103274.html?wprss=rss_business/personalfinance

[4] Fox News.com, “As Obama Holds Jobs Summit, Frustrated Left Complains About Slow Growth,” 12/03/2009, at http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/12/03/frustrated-liberals-plan-protest-obamas-job-summit/

[5] Ibid.

Photo: Dreamstime.com

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