A House On Fire

Jack Metzgar from the Chicago Institute for Working Class Studies, on the need to address the unemployment crisis before it becomes further embedded:

The American labor movement has been making that 9-1-1 call to the White House for several months now, and not getting through. Unions in coalition with the Center for Community Change and the National Urban League are backing variations of “A Five-Point Plan to Stem the U.S. Jobs Crisis”. The plan would create (or save) more than 4 million jobs. Though it would add $400 billion to the federal government deficit this year, it would be paid for over the next 10 years by a small (1/2 of 1%) tax on stock trades and other financial instruments — a tax initially proposed more than a decade ago to discourage speculative investment of the sort that led to the financial meltdown in 2008. In other words, the tax is probably a good idea anyway, would be paid only by investors, and it would allow job creation now to reduce the national debt in the long run. Economists from the AFL-CIO and its rival Change to Win met with White House economists to advocate for this program about the same time as Don Peck’s article appeared. The response, I’m told, was “politely dismissive.”

As a Chicagoan who roots for our home-town heroes, I’ve been especially forgiving of Barack Obama. Most of his critics seem to me to underestimate the level of difficulty Obama has faced given the character, severity, and timing of the Great Recession, the anti-functional rules of the U.S. Senate, the complexity of health care economics, and many other things. But it is not difficult for a U.S. President to prioritize a house on fire over a crack in the foundation. Part of the President’s job is to set the agenda for what gets public attention. By establishing a bi-partisan commission to address the national debt while presenting a budget that basically says double-digit unemployment is acceptable for the next couple years, the President is making errors of both mind and heart. It also seems like really dumb politics. Pick up the phone, Barack, the house is on fire.

10 thoughts on “A House On Fire

  1. I think that the people in charge of the so-called “American Labor Movement” either don’t know what they’re doing or are in cahoots with the powers-that-be.

    Witness the Amicus brief for the corporate personhood supreme court decision. WTF? Talk about bringing a knife to a gun fight.

    What kind of arm-twisting are they doing for card check? Nothing, apparently.

    And their continued support for conservative Dems in races all over is just terrible. It’s like they’re contributing to their own decline. No wonder nobody takes them seriously. I’d take Jimmy Hoffa any fuckin’ day of the week over this bunch a clowns.

  2. Trumbka isn’t an idiot or a push over. The same goes for the the mechanics and restaurant union heads and leaders. The unions stop pushing for card check when it became clear that it chances are zero. Also the union doesn’t care for your classification of conservative Democrat; they support politician who support union causes and some “conservative” do support union causes.

  3. Koshem,

    Not being a member of a union, I have a tough time keeping up on union issues. Why can’t card check pass? Are there reasons other than Republican filibusters?

  4. Thank you, lambert. This article struck me as naive at best. Obama is serving his constituency very well. It’s funny to realize that he really is playing 11-dimensional chess; it’s just not against the opponent we expected.

  5. I don’t know what Jack Metzgar means by “further embedded.” My subjective feeling feeling (no stats) is that things started to sour in 2007. Then came the whole hope and change bright shiny object in 2008. Then 2009 came and went. And when you count everybody who’s “discouraged” (realistic) unemployment is what, 17%? Three years of nothingburger from the Dems….

  6. Wouldn’t you know? AFL CIO is backing Blanche Lincoln’s new primary opponent to the tune of $3 large. Just like them to contradict me on today of all days! If they did this more often they could have as much power as that creepy Grover Norquist guy.

  7. The interesting, and I think important distinction, is that he’s seeing what’s going on and running to Blanche Lincoln’s left. I think a lot of Dems let the village idiots talk them into thinking that their failure and unpopularity are due to their being too liberal, when it’s really because they’re not liberal enough.

    This guy may turn out to be another kleptocratic opportunist, but I think he’ll have a better chance to win if he campaigns left.

    Lincoln just looks and feels fake, fake, fake and I think she’s pissed off a lot of people in the caucus. It’s time for her retirement as a well-paid lobbyist.

Comments are closed.