Saturday, March 2, 2013

What’s Really Being Sequestered – Progress on Jobs

To no one’s great surprise, the federal budget sequester has taken effect.  Though its result will not be nearly as massive and horrendous as many have predicted, at least for a while, it could do quite a bit of damage if it continues all year, which it might – per Alex Altman in the latest issue of Time, it could cost 750,000 jobs. 
Whatever you say about American politics and the American national situation, you probably should agree that Democrats and Republicans aren’t cooperating with each other too much, so chances are good that we’ll roll along as we are through Christmas. 
And how are we rolling now?  Check out the following headlines:
“U.S. incomes see largest drop in 20 years” – The Chicago Tribune, March 1
Down 3.6% in January.
“Student debt tripled in eight years” –, March 1
On and on we go with what the article described, correctly I fear, as a bubble.
“Dow rises 35 points but stops short of record again” – Los Angeles Times, March 1
Investors have an “upbeat spirit”!  How about that!  To me, it looks ripe for a 1,000-point correction.  And how many jobs would THAT cost?
“Do-nothing Congress does something” – Los Angeles Times, scheduled for print publication March 3
On gun control, specifically on expanding background checks.  I just hope President Obama doesn’t squander too much political capital on this country-splitting issue.  If he doesn’t, there’s always immigration.
How about jobs?  Consider this:
The U.S. economy just can’t catch a break.  It has been poised time and again to rocket back to a growth rate that would recapture all the ground lost in the Great Recession, while delivering big job gains.  But every time, some outside event scuttles things.  The euro crisis flares up.  A Japanese tsunami scrambles global supply chains.  Lawmakers play chicken with the federal debt limit. – Jim Tankersley, “What’s the story with the economy?,” The Washington Post, March 1. 
The problem, Jim, is not that there was a tsunami in Japan.  It’s called Work’s New Age.  The jobs crisis is PERMANENT, and will NOT end with better economic times, or with an unprecedented lack of “events.”  As far as progress on what we can do, here is Alex Altman in Time on the sequester again: 
4.  Why all this focus on cuts?  Wasn’t the latest election about which party could create more jobs?
Funny you should mention that:  both parties say job creation is their top priority, but their actions keep hindering it in the public and private sectors alike.
No kidding.  Or at least they’re ultimately apathetic about jobs.  Even when measures would put people to work and are ideologically consistent with both sides (e.g. infrastructure repair, and permanently cutting the payroll tax), they seem to go nowhere.
If the first thing the sequester slashed were Congressional salaries, we’d already have a budget agreement – From one of my Facebook contacts, taken from a liberal site
So, this is it, folks.  It’s too bad yesterday was the only first 2013 Friday on which the Bureau of Labor Statistics did not release any overall unemployment data – it will go out March 8, so we’ll need to wait for our monthly jolt of cold water in the face.  I’ll be back then to tell you how many Americans would take a job if they were available, sequester or no sequester.   Until then, save your money. 
But wait – I’ll give the last eloquent, to-the-point words to our Speaker of the House, John Boehner, also from Time:
We should not have to move a third bill before the Senate gets off their ass and begins to do something.
What a novel idea.

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