The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Another Progressive pundit clueless on the effect of unemployment on elections

Um, dude, no, Boehner is right, and you’re wrong, when it comes to the real world (h/t Cujo)

That was odd, wasn’t it? The disconnect makes it seem as if GOP talking points are lacking in flexibility, unable to adapt to changing circumstances. When the economy was losing jobs every month, Boehner would say, “Where are the jobs?” Now that the economy has added more than 200,000 jobs in two consecutive months for the first time in four years, Boehner is still saying, “Where are the jobs?” It suggests the would-be Speaker isn’t paying attention to current events very well.

When The Economy Interferes With An Election Strategy

Ok, depending on how you count it, the economy needs to add about 140K to 150K jobs JUST to keep up with increases in the population.  About 8.4 million jobs were lost in the last recession.  At a rate of, say 250,000 jobs/month, it will take 7 years to both put everyone back to work, and to sop up population increases.

For people in the ordinary economy “where are the jobs?” is a perfectly valid question, and it is a perfectly valid election strategy, because even if the economy starts regularly producing jobs at over 300,000, when November rolls around, the vast majority of people who need a job, still won’t have one.

Here’s my prediction: as a percentage of population, employment will not recover before the next recession.  80%+ of all productivity increases will go to corporate profits, and wages will stagnate.

Boehner is right to ask “where are the jobs?”  Both as a matter of fact, because there aren’t enough jobs, and as a matter of electoral strategy.


Oh Bullshit, Gay is not “something you call yourself”


Small Traders are Guppies for the Sharks (aka: banks)


  1. One way of looking at it is that in one month in 2008, we lost over 600k jobs. When you figure population gains into the mix, that means that we’ve spent all of Obama’s presidency so far making up for that one month. With credit still being tight, and no obvious spur to domestic manufacturing or construction, I can’t help but think this boom isn’t going to last.

    I took Boehner’s statement to be part of the standard GOP rhetoric about how the stimulus didn’t create any jobs. In that respect, his statement was rather specious. On the whole, though, he’s right. The Democrats better hope he’s not looking right again before November.

    Seems like it was just a few years ago when the Republicans were wondering why no one was impressed with the economy, and Democrats were noting that people weren’t finding jobs. Times sure have changed, haven’t they?

  2. Ian Welsh

    Yup, the Bush economy sucked for most people, and so far, so does Obama’s (yes, it could be considered still Bush’s economy, but 2 years in voters won’t think that way.)

  3. It’s a refrain you hear a lot from Obama supporters; any time there’s slightly-less-catastrophic news, they sing it from the rooftops.

    To be fair, that’s all they’ve got: slightly less catastrophic policies and results. They don’t want to confront the obvious, that they/we elected a President suffering from (or pretending to suffer from) learned helplessness, only willing to do anything if his corporate masters say it’s ok.

    Stimulus package? We ‘can’t’ make it big enough, or the Republicans will stop it. Somehow.

    Health care reform? Even though he really likes single payer on paper, we ‘can’t’ do it – it’s too radical.

    DADT? We ‘can’t’ fix it, because the military needs lots of time to be coddled. Not like they’re used to, or supposed to, follow orders.

    Climate change? We ‘can’t’ pass real legislation, the coal states will scream bloody murder, but we must drill offshore, it’s totally safe, the Republicans say so.

    On and on. Did someone lock him in a box as a small child or something? Where does this come from, the idea that the President of the United States, with solid majorities in both the House and Senate, can’t get anything done?

    Yeesh. One half of me thinks he’s a basket case, the other half sees those unemployment numbers, coupled with the surge in productivity from terrified workers, and thinks he’s an evil genius.

  4. anonymous

    Where does this come from, the idea that the President of the United States, with solid majorities in both the House and Senate, can’t get anything done?

    If people do not think of him as a Democrat in the Roosevelt/Kennedy/Johnson tradition, but as a Republican, then all of the analysis of Obama disappears. He’s then doing what is expected. He is a “moderate” republican, but as such he could not get nominated or elected by the current republican party so he had to run as a democrat. He’s is attempting to maintain the status quo, as corporations want. “Get things done? What is there to get done?” A few tweaks here and there, bring back “confidence”, protect the current companies is the various sectors of the economy, protect his socioeconomic class.

    Of course, many people would argue that all politicians currently holding office have no interest in disturbing the status quo. Their voting record so far this term appears to me to support that view.

  5. anonymous

    “is the various sectors” should read “in the various sectors”.

  6. Well, the “creative class” dudes have jobs, at least in DC, explaining to the rest of us unemployed why, at some undetermined point in the future, we’ll will have jobs, just like they do!

    What we need is a jobs guarantee for everyone who’s willing and able to work.

  7. Re: Anonymous. What you’re saying falls under the ‘evil genius’ category. The effect to date on America of the Obama/Late Bush administrations has been a sort of softer Shock Doctrine. Productivity way up, unemployment way up, personal mobility and freedom and qualify of life way down.

    Bankster pockets lined thoroughly of course.

    If that’s your design, ie, the typical design of a ‘moderate’ Republican, then you’ve succeeded wildly. Hence, ‘evil genius’.

    As for thinking of Obama as Kennedy/Johnson or FDR, hahahaha. Oh man. Kennedy screwed up huge at times but at least he had positions; Johnson would have fed Lieberman his own spleen by now, and FDR, well. Racist bastard that he was, at least he understood that having a big chunk of the country out of work was a *bad* thing.

  8. dandelion

    I realize anecdotes are not data but: I recently had dinner with a DC friend visiting me here in California. This guy’s very politically connected, former dem senatorial aide, very involved in dem politics and policy–making. He had no clue — none at all — about the unemployment issue. I told him almost every family I knew here in CA had been affected by job loss or pay cuts — he was shocked. I mentioned several of my friends who might lose or have lost their homes. Foreclosure and unemployment affecting “real people” i.e. not just factory workers in Detroit??!! He turned to his wife and said I guess we really don’t see any of this, in the DC area, I guess we’re pretty insulated. They each wracked their brains — but did not know a single person who’d been affected by this recession — and that, I have to say, was really unsettling.

    So yeah — the creative class in the Beltway have their jobs and they DO NOT SEE the unemployment, even the unemployment affecting the “creative class” outside the Beltway. Out here, sure it’s construction workers out of work, “to be expected” don’t you know, in times of recession, and what can you do, they should have gone to college — that seems to be the prevailing attitude. But there’s also a huge shadow inventory of IT workers who were forced into “self-employment” in the wake of the crash and who now have no work at all — and they don’t count as unemployed, either, or receive benefits.

    But my friends in DC feel pretty good about how the Dems have done with the economy because the stock market’s up from its 2009 lows.

  9. dandelion:

    I wrote this awhile back about the health care issue specifically, but I think it’s something that’s true more generally – you’re right. The people in DC, including both the politicians, the chatterers, and the press, don’t have a clue what it’s like out here in the rest of the country. I’m convinced that few of them have ever been poor, or even lower middle class – a condition which I’d define as anyone who has to live from paycheck to paycheck continually, with little hope of that ever changing for the better.

    I reckon you could have had a similar conversation with half the members of Congress and their staff, no matter what region they represented. It’s a different, and increasingly insular world there.

  10. dandelion

    cujo359: yeah and here’s the thing about this disconnect — I’m in San Francisco, not the Imperial Valley, not Detroit, not Pittsburgh — I’m in a place where there really should be next to no disconnect between what “liberal Democrats’ are experiencing in their work/home lives and how the DC chattering class thinks things are. BUT — the pain is here too. And if there’s a disconnect like this between SF reality and DC reality, then imagine how wide the disconnect is between DC “creative class” perception and the lives of people in places like the Imperial Valley.

    Even my oh so hip Haight Street twenty-something daughter is furious with DC and the Dems and for good reason: NONE of her friends can find a job: NONE of them. She and her friends — who two years ago were wearing Obama everything — are waiting and listening for a leader to ride forth and command a third party into being — someone who’ll speak to the anger of the Teapartiers but with answers from the left. Until then? Not voting. Definitely not canvassing or organizing.

  11. votermom

    We need to bring unemployment to DC but how? Even if congress & senate doesn’t get re-elected, they have jobs waiting for them on K Street.

  12. beowulf


    DC is a company town, the way to bring unemployment (reality?) back to DC is to outsource jobs to the rest of the country. Kevin Phillips has suggested changing congressional rules to allow Members of Congress to vote from their district office and to conduct committee meetings by teleconference (meaning that congressional staffers and lobbyists too, would have to be in the home districts too).

    Likewise, government agencies and departments could be moved out of DC to other cities. During WWII, DC was so overcrowded with new agencies and staffers for the war effort, that many civilian agencies were relocated for the duration– the SEC moving to Philadelphia, for example.

  13. jawbone

    Votermom, how about Hoovervilles? Obamavilles would be more 21st Century, of course.

    But what really got under DC’s hide was the Bonus Army‘s encampment right there in the capitol.

    Now, who would play MacArther’s role?

  14. Who would play MacArthur’s role? Why, Petraeus, of course!

  15. David H.

    Didn’t the bonus army protest end with the real army opening fire on the pensioners?

  16. Ian Welsh

    Yes, MacArthur bust them up. When Roosevelt got in, he sent Eleanor. “Hoover sent the army, Roosevelt sent his wife” as one protester said.

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