An un­happy Thanks­giv­ing for Amer­i­can work­ers

White House poli­cies keep the econ­omy crawl­ing

The Washington Times Daily - - Opinion - By Don­ald Lam­bro

Thanks­giv­ing is a time when we ex­press our grat­i­tude to the Almighty for the many bless­ings be­stowed on our coun­try and its peo­ple. Sadly, though, this is also a time of se­vere eco­nomic anx­i­ety and fear for many Amer­i­cans, who are still strug­gling in this per­sis­tently weak econ­omy to earn a liv­ing and make ends meet. It’s a time when many more peo­ple now say “they worry a lot” about los­ing their jobs in the Obama econ­omy, not to men­tion the long-term un­em­ployed, who are still look­ing for work in an econ­omy where jobs are in short sup­ply.

These are the re­sults of a new sur­vey that has yielded some deeply dis­turb­ing find­ings on this Thanks­giv­ing that should fuel new de­bate about the pres­i­dent’s poli­cies and pro­grams, which have failed to re­vi­tal­ize our once-mighty econ­omy.

This is a time when our coun­try and its lead­er­ship at all lev­els of govern­ment need to be­gin re­fo­cus­ing on why our eco­nomic per­for­mance re­mains shame­fully weak and sub­par four years af­ter the re­ces­sion sup­pos­edly ended.

At the high­est level of our govern­ment, Pres­i­dent Obama rarely talks about the econ­omy’s en­dur­ing weak­ness and has given up on im­prov­ing its fun­da­men­tals. He hasn’t a clue about what is needed to make that hap­pen.

On Capi­tol Hill, you can search in vain for a Demo­cratic leader who is an­gry that, as Mr. Obama nears the sixth year of his pres­i­dency, 11 mil­lion Amer­i­cans are still un­em­ployed, and mil­lions more are un­der­em­ployed, work­ing part time or fewer hours at less pay.

Sto­ries about the econ­omy’s un­der­ly­ing weak­nesses are a rar­ity on the net­work news shows. The highly paid news an­chors, re­porters and pro­duc­ers in New York, no mat­ter how bad things have got­ten, all too of­ten give that sub­ject short shrift or avoid it al­to­gether. All too of­ten, they gush over mi­nus­cule num­bers that they say pur­port­edly show the econ­omy is do­ing bet­ter, but very of­ten ig­nore the bad num­bers or play them down. There are signs in some sec­tors of the news me­dia, though, that the econ­omy is get­ting a deeper re-ex­am­i­na­tion.

On Tues­day, The Wash­ing­ton Post ran a lengthy story on its front page, be­neath this head­line: “For low-wage work­ers, un­prece­dented anx­i­ety,” adding, “Many fear los­ing their jobs, poll finds.”

The news­pa­per re­ported the dis­mal re­sults of a re­cent na­tional sur­vey by The Post and the Miller Cen­ter, a pub­lic-pol­icy af­fil­i­ate of the Univer­sity of Vir­ginia. This is what it found:

“Amer­i­can work­ers are liv­ing with un­prece­dented eco­nomic anx­i­ety, four years into a re­cov­ery that has left so many of them stuck in place. That anx­i­ety is con­cen­trated heav­ily among low-in­come work­ers … .” Among the poll’s broader find­ings: More than six in 10 work­ers say they worry they’ll lose their jobs in this econ­omy. Nearly one in three said they worry “a lot” about be­ing laid off — a record high, the sur­vey re­port said. No­tably, 54 per­cent of work­ers earn­ing $35,000 or less said they now worry “a lot” about los­ing their jobs. That num­ber com­pares with 37 per­cent of sim­i­larly lower-in­come Amer­i­cans in 1992.

“Lower-paid work­ers also worry far more about mak­ing ends meet. Fully 85 per­cent of them fear that their fam­i­lies’ in­come will not be enough to meet ex­penses,” The Post re­ported. Thirty-two per­cent told poll­sters they worry all the time about mak­ing ends meet, “a num­ber that has tripled since the 1970s.”

The sur­vey also dra­mat­i­cally re­vealed just how deeply Mr. Obama’s econ­omy has re­duced house­hold in­comes: 40 per­cent of all work­ers said they ei­ther had their work hours or pay lev­els cut. For work­ers mak­ing less than $35,000, that per­cent­age jumped to 54 per­cent. It is 45 per­cent for those who earn be­tween $35,000 and $74,999, and 27 per­cent for work­ers above $75,000. These are dreary num­bers, in­deed. Be­hind them are peo­ple who are suf­fer­ing un­der Mr. Obama’s poor lead­er­ship and failed poli­cies.

Other polls show that con­fi­dence in Mr. Obama’s econ­omy is erod­ing fast and his job-ap­proval poll num­bers are fall­ing with it. A Gallup poll shows his jobap­proval score av­er­aged 40 per­cent for the week end­ing Sun­day, though other sur­veys had it fall­ing into the high 30s. It is note­wor­thy that his ap­proval rat­ing has fallen to 39 per­cent among work­ers whose an­nual in­come is be­tween $24,000 and $59,999. That shows he is los­ing his base of sup­port, an omi­nous po­lit­i­cal sign for his party for the 2014 midterm elec­tions.

“Bar­ring any ma­jor re­ver­sal this week, Obama is on track to shed at least two points in Novem­ber, an­other month in which prob­lems with the Af­ford­able Care Act’s im­ple­men­ta­tion have dom­i­nated the news,” Gallup re­ported Tues­day.

The monthly jobs count may be up slightly, “but for re­cent col­lege grad­u­ates and older adults the sit­u­a­tion is grim, and many work­ing-age adults have aban­doned job searches,” says Univer­sity of Mary­land econ­o­mist Peter Morici. “Even with more full-time po­si­tions, the pace of job cre­ation is well short of what is needed. About 360,000 jobs [per month] would lower un­em­ploy­ment to 6 per­cent, but that would re­quire GDP growth in the range of 4 [per­cent] to 5 per­cent. Over the past four years, the pace has been a pal­try 2.3 per­cent,” Mr. Morici writes.

Stronger eco­nomic growth is pos­si­ble, but not with the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s cur­rent poli­cies. Just four years into Ron­ald Rea­gan’s tax-cut-driven re­cov­ery, the econ­omy was ex­pand­ing at nearly a 5 per­cent an­nual rate. No one sees that hap­pen­ing un­der Mr. Obama’s anti-growth and anti-jobs poli­cies.

For mil­lions of strug­gling Amer­i­cans, this is go­ing to be a very un­happy Thanks­giv­ing.

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