VP Joe Biden will be in Cincinnati this morning talking about the economy, jobs and so on. He is coming to Ohio amid growing concerns and criticisms that the administration’s economic stimulus package is failing to create the jobs promised and necessary to help pull the nation out of our economic meltdown. And you can be sure that VP Joe will try to give a boost to Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland who is facing huge state budget deficits, a deadlocked state legislature and declining popularity as he heads into the 2010 elections. Above all else, the Dems at the national level don’t want to see a Republican Gov. in Ohio in November 2012.
Whew. And I’m complaining about my injured leg and foot.
And here is an economic stew of numbers that Joe, Ted and others can chew on today.
Obama stimulus package at $787 billion. Bush-era stimulus package — once he found out there was a recession — about $160 billion. Obama projection of new and saved jobs: 4 million. Unemployment now at 9.5 percent nationally and topping 10 percent in Ohio. If you include nationally the number of people who have given up even looking for a job, unemployment could be north of 16 percent. And we’re still shedding jobs at about 500,000 a month. Ah, ouch.
Anyway, I like Joe Biden. He strikes me as a politican who at least tries to tell the truth. Even though like most of us he tends to talk first and think later.
So if reporters can pull themselves away from the Michael Jackson retrospective for a few hours, what should they ask the VP as he embarks on his Ohio road trip?
- How credible are the administration’s projections about maintaining current jobs and creating new ones? I can’t believe that anyone can forecast that with any accuracy or certainty. And could it be that job gains at small businesses could be the result of outsourcing of jobs by larger ones?
- Even if at some point the estimate about 4 million jobs (saved or created) becomes reality, what happens to the other 10 million or more who can’t find work?
- Can Ohio’s economy recover without replacing and adding to the manufacturing jobs that have disappeared and continue to disappear?
- Are the jobs that are being created — including the so-called green ones — paying enough money for families to carve out a middle class lifestyle? Or are we looking at an economy that has fundamentially changed — where workers will have to look to two or more jobs to get by and where two-income families will be a necessity?
- Does Ohio — or any state for that matter — have enough skilled trade workers to actually rebuild our infrastructure and tackle similar projects that require this kind of skilled labor?
- What happens to state budgets — and jobs for teachers and public employees — when the federal stimulus money is no longer available?
- And for Gov. Ted — when will Ohio raise taxes? Before the election in 2010? Or immediately following it? Woot. Oops. I digress.
OK. OK. I know there aren’t any easy answers here. And it will be a policy debate that will consume the Obama administration, Congress and state leaders for months to come. And the issue of jobs — and the economy — may well determine the outcome of the 2010 elections and the future of Obama and his agenda for health care, education and so on as well.
So saying all that, it sure would be neat to see and hear a thoughtful discussion about some very important issues.
Maybe VP Joe can start that discussion today.