A friend from the Republican National Committee (RNC) wrote to inform us recently about a back-of-the-napkin figure he came up with concerning the American economy. With government spending the same as it does now, he predicted the economy will have to grow at a rate of 326 percent a year to break even by 2021, and in the process reminded us of a report from the Brookings Institution about the lack of sufficient job growth with the economic policy set by Barack Obama.
Glum and Glummer
In 2009 the president promised that his economic policy would guarantee 8-percent unemployment as an upper limit, but he also showed an unacceptable lack of discipline by deciding instead to focus more than a year on reforming the health insurance system, through a wild-eyed vision for change that wasn’t wanted in the first place by an overwhelming majority of Americans. At his 2009 inauguration, Obama blamed his predecessor for unemployment that grew worse under his own tenure.
Everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the 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.
But with Obama’s policy to focus on health insurance reform at the expense of the unemployed, the Brookings report reveals that more than 10 million additional jobs have been lost since the beginning of 2009, resulting in an unprecedented job gap, defined as the number of jobs needed to return to the high employment levels last seen before Obama was inaugurated.
If the economy adds about 208,000 jobs per month, the average monthly rate for the best year of job creation in the 2000s, then it will take until November 2022 to close the job gap.
Our friend’s figure at the RNC reminded us that as late as December 2010, less than half those amounts of jobs were created, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Competence and Character Needed
What’s needed to fill the job gap again is a president trained to the same high standards of discipline required in America’s military. Only then will Americans have competence and character in leadership to guarantee consistent opportunities for achieving economic prosperity through job growth.
Such prosperity will be achieved by encouraging broad participation in job growth, by nurturing skills for individuals to attain middle-class dignity out of poverty, and by effective government policy that supports the continuous education required for success in the increasingly important economy based on knowledge.
Republican Roots for Free Labor
But Americans shouldn’t be forced to wait ten years for government to act with an effective response to grow the economy by filling the job gap. Republicans would be wise to return to their ideological roots of free labor, by developing a platform for 2012 that highlights a compassionate conservative strategy to emancipate the record number of Americans now living as slaves to poverty under Barack Obama.
Eric Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party before the Civil War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995).
Michael J. Gerson, Heroic Conservatism: Why Republicans Need to Embrace America’s Ideals (New York: HarperOne, 2007).
Barack Obama, “Inaugural Address,” The White House, January 20, 2009.