What Was That About Jobs, Madam Speaker?
Nancy Pelosi said in her final pitch on the cap-and-trade bill that it was all about four words: "jobs, jobs, jobs, and jobs."
Unfortunately for her and the president, not a week after the massive energy tax was pushed through, the unemployment numbers went through the roof. In June, 465,000 Americans lost jobs -- 140,000 more than the number lost in May and than the number most economists had predicted. The unemployment rate hit 9.5 percent, a 26-year high.
The Washington Post explained:
The nation now has 14.7 million people who are looking for a job but can't find one, up 7.2 million since the beginning of the recession in December 2007. A broader measure of unemployment, which also includes people who are working part-time but want a full-time job and who have given up looking for a job out of frustration, also rose, to 16.5 percent from 16.4 percent.
Republicans, not unexpectedly, pounced. After all, the president had promised that passage of his $787 billion stimulus bill would keep unemployment at eight percent. Eight percent now seems like a distant, fond memory.
Rep. Tom Price released a statement declaring:
After five months of the so-called stimulus, Americans are left with just one question: where are the jobs? The administration assured us its bloated spending package would halt unemployment at eight percent, yet it has now hit 9.5 percent and continues a rapid ascent. This is not the economic security that Americans were promised -- far from it! It seems the grim outlook of the job market is only matched by the impending fiscal disaster to which this failed stimulus is contributing.
Minority Leader John Boehner took his trusty bloodhound in search of the non-existent jobs which the stimulus had "saved or created."
And Minority Whip Eric Cantor was quick to weigh in as well, chastising the president's failure to focus on the public's number one concern:
Inexplicably, instead of focusing on jobs and restoring the financial security that has been lost by millions of struggling families, the president continues to push an agenda that the majority of Americans are uneasy with. The American people do not support a government health care plan that will increase costs, reduce patient choice and flexibility, and lower the quality of care available in our country. The American people do not support the radical cap & tax plan which will impose a hard-hitting tax upon families and small businesses costing our struggling economy thousands of jobs.
Pundits debated why the president's stimulus had not delivered. Maybe he should have tried those tax cuts which Republicans had suggested. Perhaps once again we have learned that Keynesian schemes don't work. But in any event the party in power at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue will have a hard time shirking responsibility for the atrocious jobs outlook.