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View from the Hill Blog: Whose job are we talking about?
 

By Grace Boatright, National Grange View From The Hill Blog (9/9/11)

  SEPTEMBER 11, 2011 --

Personally, the President’s jobs speech last night left me, well…speechless. His proposal, named the American Jobs Act, is set to spend an additional $450 billion on the exact same programs that didn’t work with the last $859 billion stimulus package. I repeat- an additional $450 billion!! What I found particularly irritating was his insistence (he said it 6 times to be exact) that Congress pass this bill “right away.” Don’t read it, don’t nitpick, just trust me and pass it seemed to be his attitude. In that same tone, the President did his best to appeal to Republicans by repeating numerous times that the bill would not add to the deficit and that it contained an abundance of spending cuts. Overall, it was very apparent that this was indeed a speech about jobs- his job. Nobody could blame the President for trying to get his numbers up (currently, the President’s approval ratings stands at an all-time low of 44%), but asking American taxpayers to tack on another $450 billion to our almost $15 trillion debt is certainly not the way to accomplish that task.

There seem to be three main parts to Obama’s new proposal, intended to give a “jolt to a stalled economy.” The first is an extension of unemployment benefits. What the President doesn’t seem to understand is that the American people don’t want handouts. While an extension of these benefits will help a bit, most of the unemployed aren’t complaining about their unemployment benefits; they’re complaining that they don’t have the option to get off of them. The same concept goes for the extension of payroll tax cuts. Common sense should indicate that if you’re not on anyone’s payroll, saving money on your payroll taxes isn’t going to help. The third one, my personal favorite, is his proposal for infrastructure improvements. Yes, there are plenty of roads and highways that could use some sprucing up, but who are those projects going to help most? You guessed it- labor unions. Mr. President, if there’s one group whose vote you still have- it’s the labor unions. You can stop soliciting them now. 

At least the President can acknowledge that the economy is still in a terrible state. Everyone else in charge of ensuring our economic health is insisting things are getting better and that the U.S. will not be dipping into another recession. Frankly, when they talk about “another” recession, I can’t help but chuckle. Let’s ask that guy who’s been out of work for nearly two years whether or not he can tell the difference from where the last recession ended and where this looming one is to begin. For most folks, the recession of 2008 never ended. They’re out of work, their homes have been foreclosed, their cars have been repossessed, the bills keep piling up, and they’re living with relatives in an effort to save what little money they can get. But don’t worry- according to the Fed, the economy actually expanded in all of their 12 banking regions in August; as opposed to shrinking numbers in June and July. Wow, I feel better already. You know the Fed/Treasury is paranoid about economic numbers when they start showcasing their weekly findings; as if four weeks could really be used as a forecast for the next 5 years of economic activity.

If insanity is defined as repeating the same action over and over again and expecting a different result, then it’s pretty obvious to me that the President’s strategy for stimulus is pretty insane. We already spent $859 billion dollars on a strategy that didn’t work, is it really wise to spend another $450 billion doing the exact same thing? The American Jobs Act, while it might do some good, seems more aimed at increasing the President’s numbers before he gets hot and heavy on the campaign trail. The President continued that trail this morning with a speech at the University of Richmond to promote his new bill. But the question lingers- what exactly is the President promoting here- his bill or himself?

-Grace Boatright
National Grange Program Assistant

 
 
 
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