The Golf Summit: Any Talk About Jobs?

OK. I’m on vacation in Breckenridge, Colorado, where the sky is blue, the sun is hot and snow still sits on the top of the mountains above 11,000 feet or so. And trying to run at this altitude is dicey. You’re sucking air and praying for oxygen. But I’ll keep at it. Not much else to do besides biking, hiking, fishing, drinking and eating.

I expect I’ll keep posting regularly from here. Even though I give my entire editorial staff time off when I’m on vacation, somebody (me?) has to keep a watchful eye on current events, major and minor, not the least of which is Hef’s ex-girlfriend Crystal, who appears to be recovering from the stress and disappointment of the non-nuptials.

And, in the years that we’ve come to Breckenridge, I’ve noticed that few people are up at 3 a.m. or so — just like in Northeast Ohio. Go figure.  So I’ll try to opine in the early a.m. while others are doing whatever the hell they are doing at that time of day. I digress.

Anyway, we all know that the Golf Summit held yesterday on the links in DC was more about public perception than substance, although it was billed as a way to talk about the nation’s growing budget deficit and what to do about increasing — or not — the debt limit.

I hope they talked about jobs.  Our nation’s debt — and government spending — are big issues. But getting Americans back to work — and creating quality new jobs for a growing workforce — are the issues people are most interested in. Wonder if that is true Inside the Beltway?

Here’s an interesting perspective from Katrina vanden Heuvel writing in WaPo, “Speaking out for good jobs“:

Weiner’s roast, Palin’s belligerent ignorance, Gingrich’s implosion captivate Washington. Posturing over deficits and playing chicken over lifting the debt limit dominate the economic conversation. The reality facing Americans gets lost in the hubbub.

It is as if an impenetrable fog separates Washington’s follies from America’s agonies. In Washington, the economy is said to be in recovery. Restaurants are full; housing prices are going up. Republicans think it’s time to replay old conservative favorites: Curtail aid to the unemployed, roll back financial and health-care reforms, repeal what left’s of the stimulus while pushing to slash spending and taxes. The Obama administration wants to brag on the 2 million jobs created over the last 15 months, despite “bumps in the road.” The Democrats are so cowed by the elite’s focus on deficits that they are afraid to put forth a jobs plan. Outside of the scandal du jour, the city is fixated on how much and what to cut.

But out in the rest of the country, the damage wrought by the Great Recession worsens. Twenty-five million people are in need of full time work. Teenage unemployment is at 24 percent; among black male teenagers the figure approaches 50 percent. Home values are down one-third from their peak in May 2006 and sinking. Millions of families face foreclosure. Wages aren’t keeping up with prices, particularly for basics like food, gas and medicine. Schools are laying off teachers and shutting down services. College costs are soaring.

Washington offers no answers. The administration wants to “win the future” while getting credit for saving the economy from free-fall. Republicans gleefully obstruct any government action, confident that Obama will get the blame for the struggling economy. Inaction becomes routine. As Paul Krugman put it, “policy makers are sinking into a condition of learned helplessness on the jobs issue: the more they fail to do anything about the problem, the more they convince themselves that there’s nothing they could do.”

For the unemployed and underemployed, and for the sinking middle class, the daily struggle to stay afloat consumes most of their energy. As former labor secretary Robert Reich put it: The jobless “lack the political connections and organizations that would otherwise demand policies to spur job growth. There’s no National Association of Unemployed People with a platoon of Washington lobbyists and a war chest of potential campaign contributions to get the attention of politicians.” This in stark contrast to the billionaires and Beltway elites currently orchestrating the austerity campaign.

Last week, Mitt Romney, while meeting with some people in Florida who are unemployed, joked that he also was unemployed.Hate to say it Mitt, but that’s the kind of elitist Inside the Beltway view that doesn’t have all that many people in the rest of the country laughing.


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