Who is to blame for the continued rising unemployment rates in the United States? Our American political pundit Lauren Rollheiser weighs up the options…
Political spinning is alive and well and the devastating loss of jobs in the United States is not off limits. The most recent job report, released last Friday showed that in May 2009 345,000 people became unemployed, increasing the national unemployment rate to 9.4%. Some smaller states are well above this rate. Michigan, the home of the auto industry, for example has a 12.9% unemployment rate.
But where does the blame for this lie? Republicans of course, blamed President Obama for the economy during the campaign before he had even been elected President, let alone taken office. When the economy began to take a downturn, Obama catapulted above opponent John McCain in the opinion polls. And as the election wore on and the economy worsened, Republicans pointed to Obama’s lead in the polls as the cause of the faltering economy. According to political spin doctors, just the idea that Obama could win the election was enough to crash the world economy.
Democrats used the same data to hold a microscope up to the Bush administration, suggesting that the faults of the previous 8 years were obvious, the public knew it and that infacr was the reason for Obama’s lead in the polls.
Now that Obama is comfortably in office, the spinning for both sides of the political sphere continues.
The results of the new jobs report as confirmation that the nation as a whole is experiencing high unemployment has sent Republicans into overdrive, using the staggering numbers as “proof” that the stimulus package they opposed is failing.
However Democrats point to better-than-expected results as “proof” that Obama’s risqué stimulus package is working. They argue that although 345,000 jobs lost in one month is never a good thing, it could have been much worse; in January 741,000 people lost their jobs.
Those who do decide to put away the political goggles and look at events as they have unfolded will see that Obama has repeatedly reiterated that the stimulus was created to put a floor on the economy, but could/would not save every job, and that jobs would continue to be lost through 2009.
Either way unsurprisingly such a huge job loss does not bode well for our current president. It was obvious in January when Obama came to office that he was facing a no-win situation where regardless of his actions; people were losing jobs, homes, and life savings. It is always difficult to balance an argument with an “it could have been worse” stance, especially when simply moderating the downside is the only available option.
While job losses continue, opposing political pundits are trying to use this to their advantage. Republicans stand on the principle that government should stay out of personal lives, which is great in theory. However, this theory erodes when that personal life includes a job loss, which is when people look to the government either as the culprit or the one to fix it. Personally, I feel that the move by some Republicans to oppose the stimulus package was more of a political stunt than an attempt to stick to principles. Opposing government aide for the auto industry was a risky move and no doubt as the job losses in this industry begin to roll in, it will be Obama that killed the auto industry, not the Republican party.
Republican ideals are based on free markets and allowing businesses to fail when they lose their competitive edge. But the “you got yourself in this mess, now deal with it” stance is a hard sell, prompting some republicans to shy away from their ideals, and leading most of the country questioning what it is they really stand for.
With the economic situation in the US and around the world becoming increasingly bleak, the political positioning of some members of government is sickening. Across the country people are losing their jobs and homes and around the world, economies are collapsing. I think that instead of using the situation for their own professional advantage, politicians should be acting as the public servants that they claim to be and quickly find some decent solutions.