Scary job numbers add fuel to Obama's bailout mania

Well, they ARE scary. The jobless rate for December shot up 0.4 percent from 6.8% to 7.2% as the economy shed nearly 600,000 jobs. It brought the total job loss for the year to 2.8 million and is hitting every sector of the economy and every region of the country :

The 7.2 percent was the highest unemployment rate since January 1993, when the country was still shaking off a jobless recovery from the 1990-91 recession. The loss in total jobs for 2008 was the largest since 1945.

“These numbers, back to back, of more than a half million a month suggest that the U.S. economy is in a freefall,” said Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Global Insight. “It’s scary, and it indicates that unless something is done and done quickly to turn this economy around, we’re looking at an awful situation this year.”

The toll of job losses cut across every sector. Nearly 800,000 manufacturing jobs were lost in 2008, and 630,000 construction jobs disappeared as home-building slowed. Jobs dried up in the financial sector, in publishing houses and trucking companies, department stores and hotels.

“This is unprecedented,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s “It’s coast to coast. It’s everywhere. There’s really no refuge in this job market. There’s no safe place.”

The ranks of underemployed workers “Even with a stimulus package, the unemployment rate is going to keep rising and by December it is likely to be over 9 percent,” said David A. Levy, chairman of the Jerome Levy Forecasting Center. In a speech on the economy, Mr. Obama said Thursday that the unemployment rate “could reach double digits.”

If the economy is in"freefall" according to that one economist - and others have echoed that idea and worse - it really begs the question regarding Obama's stimulus package.

Why not?

We can all probably come up with 2 or three good reasons off the top of our heads but the fundamental idea of stimulating the economy is not a bad one. It's how Obama intends to do it that is the crusher.

Targeted tax cuts, payroll tax holidays, perhaps even bridge loans to companies that stand to benefit the most and could lead a recovery - I can think of a lot better ways to spend a trillion dollars than throwing it at labor unions. But at the moment, Obama's plan is the only game in town due both to his recent election and the tradition of giving a new president what he wants as well as the lack of any substantive counter plans being offered by Republicans.

Every time numbers like this come out over the next few months, it will only give impetus to Obama's bailout plans. There's no other way to say it but we've got to face facts; come the spring, some form of Obama's bailout plan will be the law of the land.

And we better pray that we get lucky and that something, somewhere in that plan works to slow down the job losses and get Americans besides union members back to work.