Counterparties: Obama’s unemployment aphasia
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If you listened to President Obama’s speech on the final night of the Democratic National Convention, which clocked in at about 4,600 words, there were a number of words you didn’t hear. Chief among those omissions, Zeke Miller notes, is the most important issue for at least 12.5 million Americans: unemployment.
In a speech that the pundit class largely saw as safe — even a bit boring — Matt Yglesias found no mentions of aggregate demand, fiscal stimulus, monetary policy or housing finance. (Obama’s signature homeowner aid program, even in its latest spiffed-up form, was also not mentioned.)
Josh Barro finds Obama’s speech “lame and unconvincing”, with “shockingly little content in defense of his economic policies over the last four years, focusing almost exclusively on results in the manufacturing and energy sectors”. Ramesh Ponnuru says the speech was “a celebration of job growth” that the country as a whole “rightly finds grossly inadequate” .
Before the speech, however, the Obama campaign did release a set of economic targets, which Ron Fournier says wasn’t a “blueprint as much as it was a collection of lofty goals and promises”. Among those goals:
- Create 1 million new manufacturing jobs by the end of 2016
- Double exports by the end of 2014
- Cut net oil imports in half by 2020
- Support 600,000 natural gas jobs by the end of the decade
- Cut the growth of college tuition in half over the next 10 years
- Recruit 100,000 math and science teachers over the next 10 years
- Job training for 2 million workers at community colleges
- Reduce the deficit by more than $4 trillion over the next decade
Those manufacturing claims seem rosy, considering we’ve seen three straight months of ISM index contraction and August saw 15,000 manufacturing jobs disappear, Joe Deaux writes. John Cassidy writes that most of the goals were “familiar or modest, or both”.
Those goals, it’s worth remembering, will do nothing to help America deal with the U word in the short term. Klein notes one more thing that wasn’t mentioned in the speech: the president’s failed American Jobs Act. Which was his most promising solution to the jobs crisis. — Ryan McCarthy
On to today’s links: