It’s the jobs, stupid

Get ready—President Obama says he is now ready to “pivot” to that nagging issue of American joblessness!

Pivot? How about focusing on it relentlessly, even (dare I say it?) presidentially? After all, our economy is in the ditch, not because of government deficits, but because of our deficit in good, middle-class jobs. It’s way past time, Mr. President, for you to put on your FDR hat and get cracking on a real jobs program.

So, what does Obama’s pivot amount to? “There are things,” he recently said, “that Congress could do right now that will help create good jobs.” And—cue the trumpets—those things are: First, pass more free-trade agreements, and, second, overhaul the patent laws!

What, you expected boldness?

This is pathetic. We already have a mess of free trade scams, and they’ve led to job losses for America. Patent reform? Any jobs that might come from that are years down the road—are people just supposed to sit still and wait? These proposals are nothing but more trickle-down economic tinkering, not a jobs program. They make Obama seem not only small, but ridiculous.

He wasted a ton of political capital on his senseless debt-ceiling deal with ideological know-nothings in the Republican House, when the American people were crying out consistently and emphatically that the issue is jobs, jobs, jobs and more jobs. Labor Day is coming up. What better time to propose a national recovery program that would hire millions of people to go to work on infrastructure and green-energy projects that America urgently needs? Put something real on the table, let the right-wing Koch-heads howl against it, then go to the countryside a lá Harry Truman and hammer them with their own know-nothing do-nothingism.

The people are waiting. Do they have a president, or not?


I’m often asked, “Do Republicans serve any real purpose in Congress?” Yes, they do. They proudly serve as the plodding pack mules of Corporate America, dutifully hauling any load that a corporation piles on their backs, no matter how odious.

Take Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, whose back is permanently swayed from 34 years of carrying corporate legislation. Most recently, he’s been toting a stinky load for Delta and other airlines that want Congress to rig their employees’ unionization elections by decreeing that those who choose not to vote be counted as having voted against unionization.

To get what his corporate drivers wanted, the mulish Hatch went to extremes this summer. He held the Federal Aviation Administration’s budget hostage for nearly two weeks, forcing this essential public safety agency to lay off 4,000 employees and halt an array of airport improvement projects across the country, idling tens of thousands of construction workers. Braying and kicking, the Senator from Delta was perfectly willing for this destructive shutdown to continue through August, even as he and other lawmakers went on vacation. But less obstinate Republicans intervened with a patchwork deal that lets the FAA operate until mid-September. After that … who knows?

But what about airline safety, you ask? Hatch showed that he didn’t care, but, luckily for us, key agency workers did. Dozens of FAA safety inspectors volunteered to stay on duty during Hatch’s shutdown—even though they were not being paid and were even having to use their personal credit cards to cover their on-the-job travel expenses. If only senators had such a sense of responsibility.

Remember—these public spirited employees are some of the same government workers who’re denigrated as slugs and leeches by the Orrin Hatches of our country.