President Barack Obama
For the past few years, jobs and the economy have been dominating the political landscape and in this election season, the old adage, ‘it’s the economy, stupid,’ is again in season, since that most likely will decide the outcome of the 2012 election
With the presidential election just a few months away and the economy being the main focus, ‘jobs and (un)employment’ stand front-and-center as they relate to the economy. If millions of American citizens remain unemployed, the rest of the economy is likely to suffer – housing, consumer buying, education, health and so on – and the resultant effects are demonstrated in the massive foreclosures (that still continue today); an increase in bankruptcies; university graduates saddled with bulging student loans; and so on.
It is normal during a presidential election season for the candidates to oppose each other on almost everything and 2012 is no different. However, whenever the economy is teetering on collapse, and one of the incumbents is one of the candidates, there is a tendency to endow him with the incumbency advantage – but not so this time around principally because of the economy. But there appears to be some relief in sight for President Obama: two recent (U.S.) Supreme Court rulings (immigration and healthcare) and a simmering of the unemployment via the June numbers from the Labor Department.
At the end of the second quarter of 2012 (June), the U.S. economy is showing some encouraging signs of improving, which the President has acknowledged while adding, “There’s still much more to do; too many Americans are still out of work and hurting.” And the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) for the first quarter of 2012 which stayed at 1.9 percent was revised from its initial report to 2.2 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This was a decline from the fourth quarter 2011 GDP growth of 3.0 percent. Then from the end of May to June, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rebounded after it had already increased 1.9 percent in February and another 1.2 percent in March.
The ups-and-downs of the economy and its effects on the entire financial picture of the nation are directly attributed to the President even though the Congress is an equal participant in moving the economy and generating jobs. And even though the aforementioned court rulings were bits of good news for President Obama, the arbitrary movements of the fragile economy and the torpid job market were still his major concerns.
Presently, President Obama is changing his focus to tax fairness, calling for a one-year extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for people making less than $250,000, drawing a contrast with what he calls Republican trickle-down economics. Last Monday, he called for temporarily extending the tax cuts, while letting the taxes of the wealthiest go up.
In part, the President said, ” … We’re here today to talk about taxes — something that everybody obviously cares deeply about. And I’ve often said that our biggest challenge right now isn’t just to reclaim all the jobs that we lost to the recession — it’s to reclaim the security that so many middle-class Americans have lost over the past decade. Our core mission as an administration and as a country has to be, yes, putting people back to work, but also rebuilding an economy where that work pays off — an economy in which everybody can have the confidence that if you work hard, you can get ahead … “
This followed last week’s statement by the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors on the previously mentioned data of the employment situation in June:
“While the economy is continuing to heal from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, much more remains to be done to repair the damage from the financial crisis and deep recession that followed. It is critical that we continue the policies that build an economy that works for the middle class and makes us stronger and more secure as we dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession. There are no quick fixes to the problems we face that were more than a decade in the making. President Obama has proposals to create jobs by ending tax breaks for companies to ship jobs overseas and supporting state and local governments to prevent layoffs and rehire hundreds of thousands of teachers.”
As of press time and in general, the President and the Speaker are at a continuous logjam about almost everything: the economy, jobs, taxes and healthcare, so much so, that very little, if anything of consequence is getting done.