The motto of the incoming Obama administration in 2009 was “Never let a crisis go to waste.” The Democrats saw the economic turmoil of the time as an opportunity to pass left-wing proposals that had been on their wish list forever, but that now would become viable because of the financial crisis. They didn’t seriously think that most of these proposals would help the economy, and some undeniably would damage it, but the Democrats were confident that the economy’s underlying strength would soon assert itself, recovery would inevitably take place, and they would get the credit. This, the Obama administration thought, would put the Democrats in clover for a generation.
Things didn’t work out that way. 2009 was not 1930. Americans, to the Democrats’ surprise, did not hunger for big government solutions. Moreover, the Democrats’ motives were transparent, in part because they arrogantly trumpeted their “Never let a crisis go to waste” strategy. Voters wanted the Democrats to address the economy, not pay off their union allies through bailouts and try to nationalize the health care industry. And most voters do not share President Obama’s insouciant (and economically ignorant) conviction that wasteful government spending is just fine, since “spending equals stimulus.”
Hence the midterm election blowout. Now the Democrats face the sobering reality that their policies have completely failed to solve the economic problems that they were elected to address. On the contrary, matters have gotten worse on their watch. Today’s bad news–“unexpected” as always, as Glenn Reynolds likes to point out–demonstrates that the administration and its Congressional allies are still at square one when it comes to stimulating economic growth. The French news agency, AFP, can’t hide its schadenfreude at today’s jobs report: “US unemployment surges to 9.8 percent in November.”
US unemployment rate surged to 9.8 percent in November, the Labor Department reported Friday, in a hammer blow to hopes for the US jobs recovery. The economy created many fewer jobs than expected and the unemployment rate rose dramatically from the 9.6 percent seen in October, to its highest level since April.
A measly 39,000 jobs were created, well short of the 130,000 predicted by economists and well beneath the levels needed to make a dent to unemployment rates.
How do you say “measly” in French? How do you say “failure”? The Obama administration and Congressional Democrats are perilously close to the point where, even if the economy does recover between now and 2012–which I think nearly everyone expects–voters will deem their policies to have failed. In part, at least, this is what happens when you tell the world that you view the nation’s economic crisis as an opportunity to advance partisan ends.
PAUL adds; The words, I believe, are “echec” and “miniscule.” And they are apt. In addition to the figures John cites, there is this: For blue-collar workers — “production and nonsupervisory employees” — aggregate hours fell, aggregate payrolls fell, average weekly hours fell, average hourly earnings fell, and average weekly earnings fell. And in the household survey, an alternative way of estimating unemployment, employment actually declined.