It’s about jobs, stupid

Published 9:42 am Friday, December 4, 2009

Between supporting an unpopular war in Afghanistan, fighting for a controversial health care reform, and an inherited economic crisis that seems highly resistant to the creation of jobs, President Barack Obama and his Democratic Party have a challenging road ahead as the 2010 elections move closer.

Beyond all else, the assessment of President Obama’s early years will be made based upon jobs. If unemployment remains at or near 10 percent next fall, then expect many Democrats to go home and find new careers.

And that is fine, for while government does not create jobs it does take the blame when Americans suffer economically. Such is the currency of elections and ejections.

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But occasionally, when complaining about jobs Americans are reminded of the Republican solutions to jobs, otherwise known as the policies that got us into this mess.

Mitt Romney, potential Republican Presidential candidate in 2012, has published his ten point plan for job creation and, with its appeal to the Republican primary voters, who tend to be the far Right of American politics, it reminds of all that has gone wrong in America.

Mr. Romney suggests that what we need is more free trade, the very kind of trade that has robbed America of industry and a living wage. What we do not need is more of anything remotely like the kind of free, but unfair, trade policies that he advances yet again as an advocate for the radical Republican Right.

Mr. Romney also thinks that while there must be some financial market regulation, that regulation should not be “excessively burdensome.” Really? The folks who did their best to destroy the American economy with gambling schemes that paid them millions while taxpayers footed the bill need not to be burdened with too much “red tape?”

Romney also calls for the extension of the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 to the richest 1 percent of Americans, tax cuts paid for by debt during a time of war. He somehow thinks, with America facing huge deficits, that reducing the revenue to the Treasury is a great idea if it benefits, well, folks like him who want more of their wealth even if it is paid for by debt.

And with more Americans than ever since the Great Depression suffering economically, Mr. Romney wants to cut back spending on our social safety net, because we cannot afford these “unsustainable, unfunded entitlements” like Social Security and Medicare and S-CHIPS and Food Stamps and extended unemployment benefits.

According to Mr. Romney the only things we can afford to fully fund are “… new military equipment (and) … essential infrastructure.” Well of course.

Why even examine the military budget that is equal to what the rest of the planet spends annually on military costs? Let’s fully fund unwanted airplanes and failed Star Wars defenses while telling our seniors we can’t afford the retirement they paid for all their working lives.

Then Mr. Romney tells us that our real problem is our unions, shrunk since the Reagan attacks to about 15 percent of American workers, and further diminished by “saving” the auto industry at the great expense of living wages and benefits. Yet with the power of unions reduced we have also reduced the incomes of working Americans. While our corporations thrive, our workers earn less and fall father behind economically.

The problem is jobs, and the heart of the problem is Republican policies that have prevailed and have destroyed the American Dream for many Americans and flooded our markets with cheap goods we still cannot afford to buy.

Thank you Mr. Romney for reminding us why we cannot turn back to those failed policies.

Jim Crawford is a contributing columnist for The Tribune and a former educator at Ohio University Southern.