On January 21, 2009, Barack Hussein Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States of America. He spoke these words concerning the state of the nation’s economy:
The state of our economy calls for action, bold and swift. And we will act, not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We’ll restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. All this we will do.
Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions, who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short, for they have forgotten what this country has already done, what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage. What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them, that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.
The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account, to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day, because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.
Today, one year away from the next Presidential Election, after 3 years under the stewardship of President Obama, where does America’s economy stand?
On November 3rd, 2001 the London Daily Mail reported that
Shocking figures revealed today that one in 15 people in America is now living in poverty.
The number – a record high – is spread widely across metropolitan areas as the country’s economic troubles continue to bite.
And almost 15 per cent of the population are also now on food stamps, it emerged yesterday.
The ranks of the poor applying for food stamps increased by a worrying 8.1 per cent over the past year to make a total of 45.8 million.
The increase in poverty is believed to have been caused due to the housing bust pushing many inner-city poor into suburbs and other outlying places and shriveled jobs and income.
‘There now really is no unaffected group, except maybe the very top income earners,’ said Robert Moffitt, a professor of economics at Johns Hopkins University.
‘Recessions are supposed to be temporary, and when it’s over, everything returns to where it was before. But the worry now is that the downturn — which will end eventually — will have long-lasting effects on families who lose jobs, become worse off and can’t recover.’
Well, Dr. Moffitt, we’re still right in the middle of the downturn. Unemployment is still high, despite the following “gains” which the Labor Department is bragging about:
The nation added 80,000 jobs. That was fewer than the 100,000 that economists expected, but it was the 13th consecutive month of job gains. Fears of a new recession that loomed over the economy this summer have all but receded.
The unemployment rate nudged down, to 9 percent from 9.1 in September.
“Those are pretty good signs,” said Michael Hanson, senior economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “We’re hanging in there.”
No one looking at Friday’s report from the Labor Department saw an end anytime soon to the high unemployment that has plagued the nation for three years. The jobless rate has been 9 percent or higher for all but two months since June 2009.
The problem is that these newly-unemployed will join the ranks of those who have been on the dole so long that they have run out of benefits:
The jobs crisis has left so many people out of work for so long that most of America’s unemployed are no longer receiving unemployment benefits.
Early last year, 75 percent were receiving checks. The figure is now 48 percent — a shift that points to a growing crisis of long-term unemployment. Nearly one-third of America’s 14 million unemployed have had no job for a year or more.
Congress is expected to decide by year’s end whether to continue providing emergency unemployment benefits for up to 99 weeks in the hardest-hit states.
If the emergency benefits expire, the proportion of the unemployed receiving aid would fall further.
The ranks of the poor would also rise. The Census Bureau says unemployment benefits kept 3.2 million people from slipping into poverty last year. It defines poverty as annual income below $22,314 for a family of four.
Yet for a growing share of the unemployed, a vote in Congress to extend the benefits to 99 weeks is irrelevant. They’ve had no job for more than 99 weeks.
They’re no longer eligible for benefits.
Mr. President…you’re being held to account.
The books will be balanced on November 6, 2012.