Long term unemployment and Obama (updated)
Obama's "jobs bill" is primarily a political prop to use against Republicans from Obama's bully pulpit. That much is clear, as he has telegraphed his desire to run a Truman-like campaign against a do-nothing Congress. But sometimes the details reveal his own weakness.
One feature of the bill highlights a big problem for Obama that opponents should latch on to as 2012 approaches. That feature is the $4,000 tax credit to employers for hiring long-term unemployed workers . Those would be workers who have been without work for 6 months.
Clearly, Obama is worried that Republicans will continue to emphasize not just the high unemployment rate but the fact that the long-term unemployment rate is staggeringly high.
The average duration of unemployment has climbed to record highs and about 44 percent of jobless workers have not had a job in six months. Mitt Romney and others have sharpened their focus on this fact -- a devastating figure for a President and a party that has led us into this morass. Long term unemployment makes the chance of landing a job that much harder -- and a myriad of other problems emerge: family breakdown, loss of homes, increased credit problems, more reliance on food stamps (also at a record high), loss of morale and the corroding of the human spirit.
The longer people are on unemployment the greater the chances they and their friends and family will hold Obama responsible.
Focusing on long-term unemployed also can help Obama's political prospects in one other way. He had Congress pass and he signed into law the extension of unemployment benefits to 99 weeks. Many long-term unemployed may be reaching the end of that time period. But he needs to get long-term unemployed hired as fast as possible so he can get the one job he cares about: his own.
This is why Republicans should continue to focus on this number.
The poker playing President is not a sharp player: he has shown his hand.
Update from Ed Lasky:
I would be remiss if I did not mention one other sly tool that Obama slipped into his "jobs bill" like a stiletto.
This is a provision that would allow people who felt they were not hired because they had been discriminated against for having been out of work to sue the people who refused to hire them.
Investor's Business Daily wrote about this gift to trial lawyers (a key Democratic Party constituency) :
Obama has shoved a provision into his jobs bill that would make it illegal for companies to discriminate against the unemployed, opening the door to a flood of costly, needless and ultimately job-killing legal actions.
As Charles Lane, an editorial writer at the Washington Post put it, this will "probably destroy jobs in a misguided effort to save them," adding that "plaintiffs' lawyers are no doubt dreaming up new ways to wield this new cause of action - make that class action - every time a company turns someone down for a job."
First a miserly tax credit to get the long-term unemployed back onto the employment rolls (at least until 2012) and then a threat that if companies do not hire unemployed people they will be sued.
First bribe and if that does not work, threaten. No wonder this guy came from Chicago.
How about enacting pro-growth policies and toning down the rage than animates your anti-free enterprise rhetoric? That might do wonders.
What message do businesses get from this President?