Washington Abandons the Jobless

April 25th, 2011 at 9:31 am David Frum | 59 Comments |

| Print

In the fall of 1984, I was a student living in Boston. A high-tax manufacturing state, Massachusetts had been hit hard by the economic troubles of the 1970s. But now suddenly there were signs in every shop window: “Help wanted.” Or: “Help wanted!” Or even: “Help wanted!!!”

One afternoon on my way to the subway, I paused in front of one of these signs in the window of a restaurant that catered to students. I stood maybe 10 seconds, maybe 12. The manager bolted out, put his hand on my shoulder: “Hey — you want a job?”

That’s what a strong economic recovery looks like.

Technically speaking, the U.S. economy is recovering right now. GDP growth has been positive since the summer of 2009. Employment is growing. If you like, you can say the recession is over.

But don’t say it too loud. With 13.5 million people out of work — 6.1 million out of work for 27 weeks or more — the odds are high that one of them may hear and take offense.

The recovery is weak, and job creation is slow. Everybody knows that. But here’s something that we don’t know, or anyway don’t think about enough: Isn’t it weird that in this dismal economic situation, neither of the two great U.S. political parties is offering a plan to do anything about the job situation?

This is a democracy, right? The parties compete for power by offering solutions to problems that people care about, isn’t that the theory? Yet here is the thing that people care about the very, very most — and from the two parties there is … what?

The Republicans have coalesced around U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan.

That plan has four main elements:

– It would impose large cuts in Medicaid for the poor right away.

– It would impose very large cuts on other domestic spending programs.

– It would cut the top rate of federal income tax from the current 36% to 25%, while pledging to close unspecified loopholes.

– Starting 10 years from now, it would reduce Medicare benefits for people now younger than 55 by potentially more than half.

Ryan’s plans are bold. And they made bold promises. According to a Heritage Foundation study commissioned by Ryan, the plan would reduce unemployment to 6.4% next year, 4.0% in 2015 and 2.8% by 2021. (The rate of 2.8% was last seen during the Korean War, when millions of young men were conscripted into the armed forces.)

Alas, the Heritage projections were derided by other economists and eventually quietly withdrawn by Heritage itself.

Well, we all sometimes get our math wrong. But here’s the strange thing: the invalidation of Heritage’s job predictions has had no impact whatsoever on Republican advocacy of the Ryan plan.

Suppose I presented you with a plan to land an astronaut on Mars. You check my numbers and discover a mistake: my trajectory will instead send the astronaut hurtling into outer space. If I answer, “Well let’s use that trajectory anyway,” wouldn’t you conclude that I was less than totally committed to the Mars mission? That perhaps I had some other goal in mind instead?

But at least Republicans have a goal in mind.

What about the Democrats? From the party of the president, we hear no job message at all. The president instituted his job program in 2009: His big stimulus plan, backed by the Federal Reserve’s active monetary creation. Last year, the president offered a supplementary measure. He agreed to Republican renewal of the Bush tax cuts of 2001 plus a partial remission of Social Security payroll taxes.

Obviously, the results of those policies has been underwhelming, to put it mildly. On Sunday, The New York Times reported that the latest round of Fed easing — $600 billion of direct money creation — has not produced substantial results, in the opinion of most economists.

Plan A and Plan B have failed.

So what’s the administration’s Plan C? It seems to be wait and hope. The waiting will be long. At current trends, it will be years before all the involuntarily unemployed return to work. And hope is never a plan.

The administration does however have a political plan: Blast the Ryan plan. Since the Ryan plan is highly politically vulnerable, the blasting will likely hurt the GOP and help President Obama. The blasting will not, however, do much for the unemployed. But then we’ve all sort of given up on them, haven’t we?

Originally published at CNN.com

Recent Posts by David Frum

59 Comments so far ↓

  • armstp

    They abandon the jobless because they are focusing on the deficit and debt. You do not have the luxury to focus on the deficit and debt when the unemployement rate is close to 9%. In fact, that is absolutely the worse time to be focusing on the deficit and debt. However, this fits the GOP well. They want to keep the unemployment rate as high as they can ahead of the 2012 election.

    • Smargalicious

      The full-throated Democratic agenda since 1964 has been the enablement of parasites and subsidization of illegitimacy, thus causing our present bankruptcy.

  • tommybones

    The abandonment has been a full-throated right wing agenda.

  • armstp


    Macroeconomic Advisers’ analysis of the Heritage claims is pretty damning calls it “both flawed and CONTRIVED.”

    Read it here: http://macroadvisers.blogspot.com/2011/04/economic-effects-of-ryan-plan-assuming.html I love the title of the piece by Macroeconomic Advisors: “The Economic Effects of the Ryan Plan: Assuming the Answer?

    The unemployment number from Heritage in the plan was just one terrible and disengeous assumption in the plan. The plan is full of bullshit assumptions.

    Other big whoppers are:

    * It also assume a massive recovery in the housing market in just the next few years. “The element that seems most out of whack is the big pick-up in residential housing creation. It’s a stretch to say there would be any increase, seeing that Ryan’s plan, after all, combines lower tax rates with some mortgage interest tax deduction element. Macroeconomic Advisers calculates that Heritage simply “adjusted up directly” residential investment, and as a result, the model produces some 4 million unoccupied housing units that are built in a decade — “an overhang as large as we estimate developed at the peak of the recent housing boom.” ”

    * To pay for the tax cuts before the reduction in Medicare spending kicks in the plan assumes massive cuts discrectionary spending. He assumes discretionary spending will fall from its current 12% of GDP to 3 1/2%, but does not tell us how he will get there. That is completely unrealistic.

    * The plan assumes revenue increases from tax cuts, even though there is no proof of this ever happening. The model from the Congressional Budget Office can’t reproduce the revenue increase Ryan claims the plan will raise — 19 percent of GDP. The Tax Policy Center can’t either. Analyzing a similar earlier Ryan plan, they found it raised just 16.8 percent of GDP in revenues. The Ryan tax cuts would increase the deficit and the debt, just as the Bush tax cuts did.

    * It assumes no heathlcare cost inflation, if it assume that the elderly will be able to pay for their insurance with their $15,000 vouchers. Or is he just purposely shifting healthcare inflation on to the backs of the elderly?

    * It assumes that health insurance companies are actually going to want to insure the very costly elderly for $15,000. Even if they did, wouldn’t this drive insurance costs up for all of us? How can the insurance companies absorb the very costly elderly population at prices the elderly can affort and still make money? They will do it by raising rates for everyone else.

    * The most interesting element of the Heritage deconstruction is on the “crowding out” effect. Certainly, if interest rates fall, and arguably they could if a serious deficit-cutting plan has made it into law, then there could be a “crowding in” effect that encourages private investment demand. But Heritage’s analysis did more than that, and adjusted up investment demand at every level of interest rate. Basically, Heritage gave the GOP plan double credit for deficit reduction.

    * etc., etc., etc.

    Again I will repeat: these errors and bad assumptions in the Heritage model are CONTRIVED, not just “we all sometimes get our math wrong” errors.

  • Non-Contributor

    Agree, it is all about unemployment. The Republicans don’t want to fix it because it clashes with their ideology (if you’re to stupid or lazy to get a job tough sh*t) and the Democrats are too inept to do anything of substance.

    • armstp


      It is absolutely perfect for the GOP to push deficit reduction right now. They get the double whammy of saying they are fiscally responsible, while at the same time hurting the economy keeping unemployment high, which will negatively impact Obama re-election chances. The deficit is the perfect policial narrative for the GOP. It is entirely in their interest to create a very big strawman in the deficit. The problem is that no one is pushing back and saying to the public and voters that if you do too much on the deficit right now it will hurt the jobs recovery, keep unemployment high and slow the economic recovery.

  • WillyP

    Gold = $1,508.

    Those unemployed are facing rising costs of living.

    If this melodrama that began to unfold in September 2008 has 3 acts, we’re now entering the third:
    1) Crisis
    2) Paper-over
    3) Re-crisis -> Collapse?

    Inflation, unemployment, debt, little political will, misinformation, spin, and corruption all characterize Act 3. I suspect this will end similarly to a Shakespearean tragedy, with the United States dead on the world stage. Based on what they see, the IMF agrees:


    It’ll be up to the Tea Party to change the trajectory of the nation. I hope it’s not too late.

    • armstp


      It is the Tea Party and all you GOP voters that got us into this mess and have brought this country down.

      Your no regulation ideology created a massive housing, mortgage and derivatives bubble. Your extreme tax cutting has created the massive deficit and debt. And your free-trade at any cost has gutted the manufacturing base and middle class of this country.

      No we do not need any more Tea Party bullshit.

      • Cforchange

        ditto armstp

        • WillyP

          The Tea Party is a Constitutional citizens movement that provides the ONLY corrective to our ills.

          Choose: Voluntary abandonment of destructive spending and regulation, or collapse.

          There is no third way out.

        • Smargalicious

          I will vote for WillyP for President.

          He gets it.

      • WillyP

        One should also add that it was Carter, Clinton, and Cuomo who did more than all else to blow up the housing bubble (with the exceptions of Greenspan and Bernanke). They politicized the mortgage market in a cynical and shortsighted manner, ushering in the bubble through coercion and race-based quotas (CRA).

        If you’re going to be a creepy dissembler, at least pick a more difficult topic than housing. Democrat fingerprints are everywhere on that.

        • armstp


          I am not sure how much reading you have done on the current recession and housing bubble, but every credible piece of analysis comes up with the same conclusions: Wall Street was the primary cause of this massive economic downturn and the housing blow-up. Overleveraged banks taking too much risk, lending money to people who could not afford the loans and often fraudulently lending, multiplying the risks through derivatives and fraudulently selling those risks to investors. If there was more restrictions on subprime lending, better bank capital requirements and some transparency and regulation on derivatives, there would have been no massive housing bubble/global economic blow-up and we would likely just be dealing with a simple housing downturn, like what happened in Canada.

        • WillyP

          Um, the “subprime loan” is the brainchild of liberal Democrats.

          The derivative products, rightly viewed, were the banks’ way of inventing for themselves a sort of insurance policy.

          Why is it that suddenly banks decided to loan money at super low rates, to families that could not afford it? 2 big reasons:

          1) Clinton (and HUD Secretary Cuomo) forced them to through legislation. This is well documented and intentional.
          2) The banks, flush with Greenspan cash, lent out money as dictated by their political masters.
          3) Because they probably realized it WAS going to burst, they created exotic derivative products (contracts) to hedge their bets.

          At the time I happened to be working for a huge fixed income exchange, and I remember the gargantuan figures in MBS, IRS, and CDS products. But when inflation perked up and the Fed began to raise rates, the party ended. Uh oh!

          This is actually what happened. I’m sorry some people refuse to accept the cold hard facts, but they point to government, and specifically to liberal Democrats in Congress and HUD, and the Fed. Bush contributed virtually nothing to this crisis, except to guarantee it lasted longer than necessary because of TARP.

        • JimBob

          As usual you just don’t know what you’re talking about.

          The Myth of Financial Deregulation


  • HighCountry

    Seems to me that getting people back to work, and therefore getting money back into peoples’ hands, is THE solution to our economic problems. Maybe I’m just naive? I think the “trickle down” style of economics has pervaded our political discourse to the point where it is taken as a given, even though we have many years of evidence to the contrary. And sadly I have no faith in the Democrats to do anything about it and even less faith in the Republicans.

  • Stan

    I agree with David Frum’s post. But the problem seems to be the usual disconnect between opinion leaders and the public. According to today’s Gallup poll, the public sees the three biggest national problems as the economy in general (28%), unemployment (26%), and the federal deficit or debt (13%), while Congress and the press are concerned solely about the deficit. Lord Acton, the guy who said that power corrupts, also said that your power depends on your wealth. He was right when he said it, and he’s right now.

  • Cforchange

    One problem you gloss over here is that since jobs were idled in the 1980′s, one of the few places the average joe could find work is in a restaurant. Hmmm, obesity problem. Hmm, pending restaurant bubble.

    Yes, it’s interesting that a president who campaigned to put American back to work(those idled before the housing bubble) has not fully confronted this issue as promised. That is unless the infastructure project is how he intends to do so. Futuristic talk isn’t pacifying. They’ve bailed out the banks and wall street – so long ago in fact that they’re back on the bonus track. Placing the American worker as top priority would be a very smart political move. Why not place this above any other pending disaster.

    The people almost entirely perceive the future of this country as zero and because a “minority” president hasn’t made things square – ethics, politics and our established government is in questions as never before. The 60′s revolt was isolated to mostly youth but today folks young and old from the entire spectrum question the honesty and fairness of our system. Proof of this shows in polls were most do not believe their children will live as well as they have.

    The dream of turning America into one big coffee shop filled with pencil pushers chatting about pressing critical issues won’t work. The bridge you cross to get there will collapse. Maybe neither of the current political parties can address this – one desires to organize us to extinction. Then the other wants little order and pay nothing if possible all while the investment bankers run circles around everyone. There must be a candidate who can moderate this mess and start a new day for this country.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    So David, what are your solutions? More stimulus is out of the question as it will only lead to a bigger deficit, the Bush tax cut extension (like the original cut before it) did not do the trick, QE hasn’t either, so what, exactly is plan C?

    The few solutions I can think of Republicans would never allow, like allow wealthy Asians visas with which to buy real estate in places like Florida or California (can’t allow filthy furriners in doncha know). Extension of tax credits to first time home buyers would also stoke demand but again, deficit hawks won’t allow that. Increased infrastructure spending would also decrease unemployment, but again Republicans will say no.

    Frum is saying Democrats don’t have plans, does he really doubt if given the Congressional chance Obama would not increase infrastructure spending and put millions of people to work?

    So we have no choice but to have a slow, steady recovery as housing demand starts to return to normal.

    By the way, the comparable time during Reagan’s term was April of 1983, unemployment then was 10.2%, much higher than now. If you are going to compare these apples to those apples, compare them to the same point in time in their life cycle. If in the fall of 2012 there are a lot of help wanted signs in windows, will you vote for Obama? I think not (unless it is Bachmann as the nominee at which point even David Frum would have to vote for Obama)

  • NRA Liberal

    There’s going to be blood in the streets before this is all sorted out.

    If you don’t think it can happen, google “Homestead” or “Haymarket”.

  • satkinsn

    David Frum once again refuses to be distracted by the deafening noise of politics.

    What is sad is how small this cry of sanity and common sense is – I am astounded that we have no mass marches on Washington, no furious town hall meetings, no drumbeat of media.

    Or not. I think one of the worst effects of right media over the last while has been the privatizing of failure. Maybe we spent too long believing failure was someone else’s fault; now we believe failure is always, always a judgment on us, and especially that it’s justice for our failure to be virtuous enough between 2001 and 2007.

    Anyway, thanks for writing. That the jobs crisis is not front page everywhere all the time shows how far off the rails we are.


  • WillyP

    The solution is taking the reigns and disincentives off production and work. That’s the only “solution.” Moronic, micro-management-like scheming for 300 million people is not going to work.

    If you’re one of those delusional types who think the worst is past, then explain how exactly the Fed is going to control inflation – which is contributing to $5 gas – without significantly raising rates. The monetary BASE has tripled since this fiasco has begun, and the Fed absolutely must drain liquidity to avoid parabolic inflation.

    When rates rise, which they must, we’re going to be stuck with (at least) $14.3 trillion in debt, an impoverished private sector, high commodity prices, fragile banks, a homelessness problem, a huge dependent population, and a large number of broke municipalities and states. Oh yeah, and Obamacare. Oy.

    Thanks Obama, Pelosi, Reid, libs, et al.

    • sweatyb

      inflation – which is contributing to $5 gas

      As usual, Willy, you’ve got that exactly backwards. High prices for oil and other commodities (due to global demand) is the only thing keeping us from deflation.

      But, like Nostradamus, keep predicting the apocalypse. At some point something you say will sorta happen and you can crow about how you told everyone it was the Democrats fault.

  • rbottoms

    David Frum once again refuses to be distracted by the deafening noise of politics.

    You mean the politics of the Republican dickheads who stymied every effort by president Obama to provide stimulus to the economy and extend unemployment insurance?

    It’s the GOP that doesn’t give a rats ass about the unemployment considering them lazy and wanting to live off the dole rather than work.

    The solution as always is to not vote for Republicans.

  • JPBulkoMBA

    I’ve written a proposal that uses entrepreneurship on a massive scale to tackle the ongoing high unemployment problem, which has left millions and millions of Americans grasping at the last vestiges of the American Dream. Long-term unemployment is at record levels and the pace of the tepid “recovery” from the Great Recession will require years to return the country to full employment. In the mean time, government coffers are depleted while straining to address the extreme hardship, and tax revenues are greatly diminished because so many jobless folks cannot pay taxes.

    My proposal describes an entrepreneurial mechanism through which we can fund a massive number of new business ventures (to create a massive number of new jobs) by tapping the financial power of Wall Street. It is a private-sector proactive approach to remedy the high unemployment problem. Titled “A Modest Proposal to Save the American Economy: Entrepreneurial Blitzkrieg as Job Creation Vehicle,” the proposal has been published online at Salem-News.com (and various other places):


    The “Modest Proposal” is perhaps a bit cynical, proposing to hand a new form of financial nitroglycerin to the same folks who crashed the economy in 2008, or perhaps a bit Robin Hood, with its ideal of empowering the American proletariat via new business creation. Nonetheless, the approach described in the proposal uses existing financial industry architecture to transfer enormous sums of funding from those who have it (Wall Street) to those who need it (Main Street) – without requiring government tax incentives or subsidies. This is an entrepreneurial mechanism that perhaps even Ayn Rand (gasp!) would embrace.

    Joseph Patrick Bulko, MBA

    • Non-Contributor

      It is an interesting idea. And I am all for ideas.

      It would be interesting to delve more into the mechanism for creating the pool of companies and how they would get rated.

      Thanks for contributing.

  • Non-Contributor

    The short term solution;

    - FICA holiday.
    - Fed to allocate money to the states to put all public sector people back to work.
    - Funding infrastructure projects.

    This will get the unemployment down and stimulate the economy.

    As far as the debt/deficit they present no real problems and will get reduced over time. The hype about inflation, deflation, selling securities is all BS. There is no data that shows any correlation between the amount of money in the economy and inflation/deflation. Its all hysteria.

  • armstp

    “From the party of the president, we hear no job message at all. “


    I think your statement above is a little unfair. The President has been doing tons to try and bring the jobs back. First, he inacted the biggest fiscal stimulus ever, including one of the largest tax cuts ever. This kick started the economy and got it growing again. It took us from a loss of 700,000 jobs a month to adding 200,000 a month. That is a net difference of 900,000 jobs a month. About 1.3 million new jobs were created in 2010. Not great given 8.0 million were lost in 2008 and 2009, but not bad. The CBO is currently predicting about 2.5 million jobs to be created in each of the next several years.

    The Fed has been doing everything it can to get the economy growing faster and to create jobs. Given all the action the Fed has undertaken it report card overall is pretty good, although there are mixed reviews on how QE is doing, but hard to really tell how effective QE has been. By the way QE was also a bit of taking a chance and trying something new, as there were few additional policy options, as we have been in uncharted waters for some time.

    Conservatives and the GOP have done nothing but complain about Obama’s action. And now because there is no additional big action or your Plan C, you guys are complaining for Obama’s inaction. Seems a bit contradictory, paricularly given the GOP gives absolutely no alternative.

    Boehner got elected, not on the deficit and debt, they hardly campaigned on it, but on the economy and jobs. Boehner and the GOP have come out with absolutely nothing on jobs. Zero. Where are the jobs, jobs, jobs Boehner? We have had a lot of action on the economy from Obama over the last 2 1/2 years, but absolutely nothing from the GOP and Boehner.

  • WillyP

    We don’t need “new ideas.” What we need is the will to implement tried and true ideas that will work, because they must work (to the extent that humans are always willing to engage in unpleasant labor).

    Cut government, reform entitlements, slash bureaucracy, end illegal immigration (for many reasons), and reward work. While we’re at it, end the special privilege of banks to print money… though this must be done in conjunction with Europe if it will be successful. (There’s quite an incestuous relationship between big banks and government right now.)

    Reducing government spending will not “short circuit” the so-called recovery. What it will do is put more resources in the hands of individuals and private sector businesses. This is a good thing.

    We see what 2 years of Obama has done – endless unemployment, limitless debt, a currency approaching death, inflation, and a severe lack of hope among the population. Such is Marxism.

    Time to talk up the private sector, fund and attract them through lower taxes, and let American business and individual initiative lead the way. In a few short years this affair with hardcore statism will fade.

  • DrGeneNelson

    The most powerful thing that Washington could do in the short run is to have an immigration “time out.” NumbersUSA has tirelessly campaigned on this theme since it began in 1998. The problem is that there are “cheap labor” Republicans who covet workforce gluts as a means to restrain wage growth across a broad spectrum of careers, including Ph.D. scientists. For details, see the PDF version of my 2007 article “The Greedy Gates Immigration Gambit” – available via a Google search of the title. Democrats see immigrants (both legal and illegal) as prospective new party members. For example, Eliseo Medina (a SEIU executive) has advocated for a “permanent pro-worker majority” for some time. Eliseo has good rapport with the Obama administration. – In the past 100 years there were two waves of “forced repatriation” to create workforce opportunities for unemployed and underemployed U.S. citizens. The wave during the Great Depression was sparked by bloody, lethal riots. – A far more humane solution would be to pass Rep. Heath Shuler’s SAVE Act, which would mandate a phased in enhanced E-Verify system for all employers. Note that big high tech employers such as Microsoft have lined up in opposition to this proposed legislation in the past.

  • hopitab

    I’d really like to know if David or any other Forum regulars have any ideas that could possibly get through Congress. Frumplestiltskin seems to have defined the situation pretty well: anything that would work will be stopped by the House and the current house solutions are fantasy at best.

    Can anyone see a way out of this blind alley?

  • Non-Contributor

    People need to get over believing that the deficit/debt is a problem. The deficit/debt is the result of the financial crisis and the housing bubble.

    Once that happens changes will come. Until then nothing will change. If you need evidence look at Japan over the last 20 years.

  • jfaulk

    Somewhat dissappointed in this article. While it does point out some interesting information, I think it does more to promote cynisism at the expense of the the facts. The current administration has presented a number of proposals in support of job growth, but as usual, is shouted down, discounted, or ignored by its detractors. If I read behind the lines in what is NOT being said by your article, I can only conclude that you choose to align with those same tactics in presenting your article.

  • Non-Contributor

    I have yet to read a credible actionable proposal from either side to decrease unemployment .

  • sdspringy

    DF has finally been critical of the Messiah and the Libs/Lefties are screaming. You Libs are finally looking at a new bad for Presidential history, move over Carter make room for Obama.

    Obama got his Porkulus, for the “shovel ready projest”. Except there were no shovel ready projects just slush fund money for Dem districts for retail workers who surprise don’t work road construction.

    Obama got his Bailout of “TOO Big TO Fail” banks and auto makers. They now produce worthless products from a company ran from Obama’s “Auto Czar” . We have the new “Jobs Czar” Immelt who flushes all his jobs overseas. Who could afford ObamaCare??

    And now we have a new WAR in the Middle East. How with the lessons learned, with “Code Pink”, with Reid standing on the floor of the Senate proclaiming this “War is lost” could we have another war in the Middle East??? Even Carter would not have been sooo foolish.

    And now we have a DOJ investigation into the high price of gas. Who believes this amount to concern or cover for an exposed political backside??? The jokes keep coming and the Lefties are jumping ship

    • Non-Contributor

      I have a different opinion.

      Obama should have gotten and spent more on the stimulus. After two years about $430m got sent to the states. About 1.2t was needed. Obama did not have the conviction to do what was needed and that seems to be his legacy.

      The “bailout” was a joint decision by both parties. All the money most likely will be returned (waiting for AIG) and GM is doing better than it has in a long time. Was the bailout right. Not sure. But let me ask what has been done to prevent the next “bailout”? What changes have been proposed and what as actually been passed as legislation? Both parties are at fault.

      And to me if Bush never invaded Iraq we would not have $4 a gallon gas. The very threat that Iraq presented in the gulf was the reason the US was gifted with cheap oil. Now that the threat is gone why should the Saudi’s care if we are paying $125 for a barrel of oil? Again you can thank both parties for that.

    • armstp


      I thought Carter was a pretty good President. He and Volker made some pretty tough decisions, which extended a recession, in order to beatdown the very high double digit inflation of the 1970s. Many economists believe this set-up Reagan and help with some of the growth in the 1980s. Carter also did some very positive things on the foreign policy front. Carter was probably the last realistic President. Someone who told the people the way it really is. Average economic growth doing the Carter years was only slightly lower than during the Reagan years.

    • armstp


      Look at the difference in growth between Carter and Reagan. For all the euphoric talk by conservatives about Reagan and all the trashing talking toward Carter, Reagan barely had more growth than Carter.

      “Real GDP advanced at an annualized rate of 5.2% during the Kennedy years, 5.1% during the Johnson years, and 3.6% when the Clinton administration was in power. GDP rose 3.5% per annum in the Reagan years and growth averaged a respectable 3.2% per annum when the Carter administration governed — and yes, some people no doubt were better off in 1980 than 1976 — and the Nixon years experienced growth of 3.0% per annum.”

  • Non-Contributor

    Here is a great read about the geographic world economies. I found it interesting but I am far from an expert on this topic.


  • longde

    The premise of the article and many of the comments is completely wrong. Unemployment has reversed and is indeed going down due to Obama’s policies. The rate is not fast enough, but the decline is there and undeniable.

    • sweatyb

      but the decline is there and undeniable

      In this instance the decline in unemployment is due to the recession ending which has very little to do with Obama’s policies (except that his and the previous administration managed to avert the 2nd Great Depression with TARP).

      Without any particular government action, over the next 5-10 years, we’ll slowly but surely work our way back to some reasonable level of unemployment. This is certainly what the “Jobs-Jobs-Jobs” Republicans are counting on.

      Of course, it would be far better for this country to get back to full employment sooner than 10 years from now. And in that sense, there are policies that could be followed to spur job growth. As Frumplestiltskin pointed out, hell will freeze over before the Republicans agree to any more stimulus. Because the Republican party has decided that what’s good for the country is good for the President’s re-election, and therefore they’re opposed to it.

  • Dave Gorak

    During this horrendous period of high unemployment, the media refuses to ask why the federal government is permitting 8 million illegal aliens to keep their jobs, the majority of them in nonagricultural industries like construction, manufacturing, transportation and service and hospitality. And why is the federal government continuing each month to issue 125,000 work permits to foreigner workers?

    Dave Gorak
    Executive director
    Midwest Coalition to Reduce Immigration
    La Valle, WI

    • Non-Contributor

      Why not let 8 million people keep their jobs? Before the financial crisis there was no issues with unemployment so it wasn’t illegal immigrants that caused the problem – it was Wall Street – how about asking them for some money to fix the problem they caused?

      Additionally, the issue isn’t entry level jobs its the middle class such as teachers, fireman, policeman that have been unemployed that really make the economy work.

      And please don’t lecture me about illegal immigrants I live in an area that supports a great majority and my tax dollars go to funding them. And you know its ok by me.

      • sweatyb

        The problem isn’t that there are too many people looking for work. It’s that there aren’t enough jobs. Depriving our economy of the labor of 8 million people isn’t going to make things get better.

    • think4yourself

      While I agree we need to have a real discussion about immigration issues (both sides are engaging in partisan tactics for political posturing). Your statement is not the answer to our economic mess. If you spent billions of Federal (taxpayer) dollars to remove all undocumented workers, then you would have an employment shortage. But, the wages paid to those illegal immigrants is not a living wage for most Americans so they won’t take those jobs. The employers would close down because the alternative is to raise the prices of goods beyond what we get from foriegn suppliers already.

      For fun go to http://www.takeourjobs.com, a job site established by the United Farmer Workers. They put this site out, had thousands of people respond, but not one was actually interested in doing the kind of work offered at the wages provided.

      “[i]During summer, when the harvest of fruits and vegetables is in full swing in California’s Central Valley, temperatures hover in the triple digits. Heat exhaustion is one of the reasons farm labor consistently makes the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ top ten list of the nation’s most dangerous jobs.

      Second, expect long days. Growers have a small window to pick fruit before it is overripe.

      And don’t count on a big paycheck. Farm workers are excluded from federal overtime provisions, and small farms don’t even have to pay the minimum wage. Fifteen states don’t require farm labor to be covered by workers compensation laws.” [/i]http://www.scpr.org/news/2010/06/24/immigrant-farm-workers-challenge-take-our-jobs/

      Let’s have a real conversation about illegal immigration, but blaming illegal immigrants for the loss of jobs over the last 3 years is not the way to do it.

    • armstp

      Extensive economic studies over many many years show that both illegal and legal immigration actually increases the size of the economy. Immigration is why this country is as big and as strong as it is.

      People like Dave Gorak are very very misguided.

  • JimBob

    Enforcing immigration laws would help the working class. In construction alone illegals dominate the job market. Brick layers, carpenters, framers etc etc. This has caused lots of displacement among natives.

  • nhthinker

    Problem with employment?

    1950s America
    Shame for taking a handout from government or anyone outside your family.
    Pride in self-sufficiency even for medial employment
    Focus on family and church

    2011 America
    Shame in McJobs
    Pride in getting as much of a handout from government out of the government as possible.
    Focus on self.

    Much of the rest of the world labor is willing to work for 1950s American level of wages and don’t mind McJobs nor hard nor dangerous labor.

    It’s not likely that employment rate over the long term will improve- we’ve become too decadent as a culture as compared to other opportunities for the global bankers.

    Reducing the decadence in our culture could improve the employment rate over the long term- as more people want to serve others at a wage point that adjusts to global realities.

    George Washington did not think our country could survive without independent pillars of government and religion. I tend to agree with him. Without a strong independent organ that focuses on morality, a society over the long term will give in to its decadence.

    But mixing too much morality into the government typically leads to theocracies of one form or another.

    I don’t expect real long term employment to improve much independent of government action. Although they might keep playing with how they calculate the numbers so they will advertise the rate as going down when in reality its not improving.

    • sweatyb

      I bet you wish the kids would get off your lawn too. Welcome to the 21st century, you’ll hate it here.

  • Brittanicus


    Since the 1986 Immigration Control and Reform Act, who has ever been in power has lied to the US people? Just enough laws have been passed, to make it seem that President Obama, George Bush back to Ronald Reagan, has promised to secure fully the border, to enforce immigration laws, but truthfully nothing serious as ever been done? All the laws enacted, were made to be broken, underfunded still leaving access to cheap labor for Republicans and more votes for liberals and Democrats; legal or illegal. E-Verify was nearly killed by Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and the true 2006 Secure Fence Act, less than a 6 months later Texas Republican Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn pushed for “flexibility to choose other options instead of fencing, if needed.” Politicians adamantly vowed to keep America safe. The law specifically called for “at least 2 layers of reinforced fencing, topped with concertina barbed razor wire with the installation of additional physical barriers, patrol roads, lighting, cameras and sensors” at five exact regions of border totaling approximately 700 miles.

    Six months after passage of the Secure Fence Act, the border fence initially planned to be 700 miles, had shrunk to around 370 miles. The so-called Border fence shows utter incompetence or very strong reluctance to keep the border—CLOSED—no matter the consequences to the people? The illegal alien invasion could be cut to a trickle, by constructing the double layer border fences as originally commissioned. Then adding 5000 military of either National Guardsman or US Army along the along the fence perimeter, saving billions of dollars in the interior of America.


    Nothing has changed, just the majority of the people overseeing the border. But we have a choice now. The usual Rino’s and the Arch Liberals, hiding beneath the cloak of Democrats, are not fully in charge anymore. It’s impossible to count the millions of Americans who have turned to the National and local TEA PARTY, hoping to save America from the greed and political power brokers. The criminals are still crossing the border, where there are hundreds of miles of no fence. Open areas of land, where the US Border Patrol are not allowed to enter, without permission from the US government. Packing AK 47, ordinary illegal peons are forced a gunpoint to carry drugs for the Cartels, or are engineering new routes for illegal immigrants to enter our country. Even some of the regions inside America are prohibited land, because of the dangers of confrontation with criminal aliens.

    The interior of our nation has become an infestation of foreign nationals, stealing jobs, stealing education from our own children, stealing Medicaid from our own impoverished people. They are stealing hundreds of billions of dollars annually in public entitlements, in unemployment benefits in some states, in workers compensation. They come here ready to conceive their foothold babies, so they can take advantage of citizen subsidies. They cross the border or fly in to take advantage of our mandated health care system. Then we wonder while our national debt of 14.5 trillion dollars is still mounting? Continually–each day we hear of illegal aliens drunk, mowing down pedestrians, homicides, kidnappings, home invasions, assaults, child molestations and other heinous criminal acts. Our jails and prisons are overflowing, because the Dems and Republicans are refusing to seal the border tight and therefore they are to blame for the daily acts of terror happening across America.


    We need a uniform plan to hire the highest skilled, that are not available in this nation’s workforce. These will be skilled newcomers who will not fall upon the US taxpayer, to pay their way. With the terrible gloomy picture of a 14 Trillion deficit bearing down on US taxpayers, with an unceasing movement of economic illegal aliens slipping past our borders, we are in a very poor State of affairs. Foothold families with 14th Amendment citizenship for their children are one of the most expenditure befalling this nation. No real dollar numbers really exist, except for the statement of Los Angeles City manager, Michael Antonovich “Illegal immigration continues to have a catastrophic impact on Los Angeles County taxpayers,”. “The total cost for illegal immigrants to County taxpayers exceeds $1 billion a year – not including the millions of dollars for education.” Any form of Amnesty in no matter what form it comes in, is an automatic magnet for the indigent of foreign countries and this must desist.[b] The TEA PARTY will oppose or rescind any laws, contrary to the “Rule of Law”, which includes Volume Immigration reform, Sanctuary states, Dream Acts and Chain Migration. ITS EASY TO FIND THE NEAREST TEA PARTY WERE YOU RESIDE BY GOING TO http://www.freedomconnector.org/

    Under Obama’s presidency and his Leftist henchman or the upper echelon of Republican leadership, the push for mass amnesty will continue. Every American who sees this as a threat to over population, absolute insane expenditures, overcrowded schools, health care any number of major problems foreseen in our future should join the TEA PARTY. The TEA PARTY numbers now are in the tens of millions and still climbing. People are seeing this political party as the only possible release from the grip of the Liberals and Rino’s. Its truthful challenge is Limited Federal Government, Our Individual Freedoms, Our Personal Responsibility, Markets that are free, but fair and Returning Political Power to the States and the People.

    [b]Attn: Whether in fact billionaire Donald Trump is running, he is bring up some major points of interest to the American people, that other candidates stay clear off? Trump is a bit of an egotist, but he loves his country and owes no favors to lobbyists or criminal money brokers. That if this country, has more oil and natural gas than anywhere on Mother Earth, why are we paying $4.00 or perhaps $6.00 dollars in our near future. Oil–we aided Saudi Arabia when Iraq attacked the country during the GULF WAR–what do we have to show for it, dead girl and boy GI’s, and now they are disrupting America, but cutting back on supplies. Drill in Anwar Alaska, The Gulf and wherever it is available. To–HXXX with the environmentalists! Why are we subservient to the environmentalists, which are upset because of the partial border fence that is disrupting wild life, but concealing the hills of debris and filth left behind by decades of illegal aliens crossing onto our soil? This year from our growing massive deficit, we owe China $300 billion dollars in just interest, when once they were the lender? This country must close of the purse to the Lefts Obama administration, no matter how painful as we are currently carrying the financial burden of foreign governments and their people.

    NAFTA and CAFTA have been poorly negotiated, just as if our trade representatives instead of working for America were secretly in the employ of China, Mexico, and India and others. Currently we are cutting our own throat by buying cheap inferior products and killing our own industries. Thousands of American companies have moved across the border or abroad and we are buying the tax free goods, with no penalties. In many cases our government has given American firms incentives to move overseas, while companies around the country have closed down, with the loss of millions of jobs. Have you even noticed, it’s almost impossible to buy something Made in the USA? Listen to Donald Trump, because out of the bunch of potential candidates, he is the only one that is telling us the raw truth.

    • armstp

      People that harp on illegal immigration are just straight out racist.

      Illegal immigration in this country is a net positive. Illegals are an important part of the workforce and the economy.

      You never heard about the problem of illegal immigration before it was dominated by hispanics. And if you listen to all the raving about illegal immigration, what these people are really complaining about is they do not like hispanics.

  • SteveT

    Apparently the right wing believes that government regulations and taxes are weighing down businesses as never before. Remove that weight and bingo! The economy and with it jobs will sprout like crazy. I don’t see this but putting that aside:

    If you have a strong economy and job market you can do with social services. If there’s large numbers of unemployed and no social services, watch out! If the prune and grow plans don’t work what will the right do?

    • sweatyb

      If the prune and grow plans don’t work what will the right do?

      We know what they will do because they’re doing it. Claim the pruning wasn’t sufficient the last time. Prune until the plant is completely gone.

      And then “prune” the roots.