Obama should go bold on jobs

Forget about Congress and fight for American workers

Labor Day is traditionally set aside to celebrate working Americans, and especially union members. But this year it would be better spent protesting the pathetic condition of the American workforce. Some 25 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed, companies continue to cut wages and benefits, unions are under attack, and the median wage is dropping.

But the corporations and their CEOs are flying high—profits are up, and so are bonuses. Shipping jobs offshore and forcing American employees to work harder are good for the bottom line—until, that is, those American employees no longer can afford to buy American products, and the economy goes haywire.

The overriding issue today is jobs. America needs to get back to work. Until it does so, the economy will continue to stagnate. Cutting taxes doesn’t help—that just throws more people out of work.

President Obama is scheduled to give a major speech focusing on the economy shortly after Labor Day. He should use the occasion to go big and bold on jobs, to challenge Congress with proposals that will rebuild American infrastructure, invest in education, put veterans and youth to work, revive manufacturing and foster green innovation.

Polls show this is what a majority of Americans want. They’re looking for a long-term strategy to put the country back to work. As Robert Borosage writes, “They want a focus on jobs and reviving America’s economic strength. They want Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid protected. They think the banks should help pay for the mess they have made. They want the rich to pay their fair share, and want an end to the money politics where predatory corporate lobbies rig the rules to benefit themselves.”

The president may not get all he wants from the Republican Congress, but at least the American people will know he is fighting for them.