Opinion

More Hope and Change!

Jedediah Bila, Red Eye, 1-18-13 edBy Jedediah Bila

In case you weren’t already feeling the hope and the change, meet today’s numbers.

The Hill reports:

The nation’s economy added 88,000 jobs in March, a figure far below expectations that is likely to trigger new doubts about the strength of the economy.

While the unemployment rate fell to 7.6 percent, that reflected 496,000 workers leaving the workforce and not a strengthening labor market. The 63.3 percent labor participation rate is the lowest since 1979.

Jim Pethokoukis reminds us:

1. That is a paltry number of jobs, more or less matching assumed labor force growth per month. So the economy must add at least that many jobs just to keep the labor market at current depressed levels. In other words, at 88,000 jobs a month the economy would never ever close the jobs gap.

2. The unemployment rate dropped because of a further decline in the labor force participation rate, now at its lowest level since 1979. If that rate were merely at March 2012 levels, the unemployment rate would have been 8.3%. At January 2009 levels, 11% (or 10.98%). While going back four years ignores demographic factors like baby boomer retirements, the aging of America doesn’t explain the entire drop. (Indeed, before the Great Recession, the Congressional Budget Office predicted 2013 labor force participation would be 65.2% (vs. 63.3% in March), assuming demographic changes.)

Now if that doesn’t put you in the mood for another Obama campaign-style speech, I don’t know what will. And yet, in the midst of these horrific numbers, President Obama is still focused on–you guessed it–tax hikes.

Fox News reports:

The administration is clear that it is offering changes to Social Security and Medicare — the two benefit programs most important to seniors — in order to convince Republicans to accept increased revenues.

I said it during the 2012 election season and I’ll say it again: Obama has no intention of caving on tax hikes for “the rich.” He campaigned on it twice, made it his priority to market wealth redistribution to voters in 2012, demonized Mitt Romney via class-warfare tactics repeatedly, and needs that revenue so that he can continue to spend, spend, spend your money.

What’s astonishing to me is that enough people haven’t lived the awful effects of these economic numbers long enough to know that Obama-style “stimulus” just isn’t working and that taking from one to give to another doesn’t grow the kind of economy that promotes opportunity or success for all.

Why the blindness? Or worse–do many just not care? It’s frightening, because if we become the kind of society that agrees with Barack Obama’s economic philosophy, we’re in trouble. Big trouble. The kind of trouble I’m not sure we can get out of.

Follow Jedediah on Twitter @JedediahBila

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