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An old adage says all politics is local, applying that adage to economics goes a long way to explaining a recent poll that shows a startling disconnect between those in the nations capital and those living on the byways of America. Washington, still reeling from the massive expansion of government under Obama, is feeling none of the pain most of America is feeling. This is reflected in the poll that shows that DC is the only place where the majority thinks things are getting better. Where Main Street USA sees their fortunes as waning over 70% of those in the nations capital see their futures as getting brighter.
For those living in the beltway bubble it seems all is coming up roses. At the center of this bubble is President Obama, a man who just some weeks ago declared the private sector was doing fine. Of course those who live and breath Washington air are often out of touch and ignorant to what is happening in the rest of the country. A sad example of this phenomenon was the town hall meetings last election that saw unsuspecting congressmen waylaid by angry constituents.
Today those on the left are touting such things as “jobs created” and a “growing economy.” Nice sounding phrases to those suffering through what many have termed the “Great Recession.” Phrases unfortunately do not put food on the table or keep a house out of foreclosure. A unemployment rate that stubbornly refuses to budge no matter how much it is massaged and economic forecasts that hold little hope for better days ahead plays heavy on people’s mind. The backdrop to all of this is the fact the real story worse than the pundits let on. At the beginning of 2011 the unemployment rate was 9.1 with 58.4% of the population actually having a job (Dept. of Labor Statistics); now with the unemployment rate down to 8.3% the impression is more people have found work. Unfortunately the percentage of Americans with jobs today is 58.4%, the same percentage as were working in January 2011 and almost the same as were working in January 2010 when the unemployment rate was 9.7%. The fact is the percentage of people working was actually slightly higher in October 2009, when unemployment reached 10% (58.5), then it is today!
As stated before, unemployment figures do not count those that are no longer looking for jobs. Mothers who now stay at home but not by choice or the young adult that has moved back home do not count as unemployed. As the media and politicians concentrate on a statistic that gives a false impression of economic recovery the fact is for most of America there has been little or no recovery at all.
The economy today is like a patient in intensive care that the Doctors can’t predict from one day to the next whether he is healing, will need to be moved to critical care or even put on life support. The country seems to be in an economic malaise where record numbers have been out of work for a long time. What new jobs there are have not been enough to keep up with the demand. Despite what the Obama spin machine is saying, it is quite evident that the U.S is not even close to being in full recovery and is even in danger of going back into free fall. Something many of those breathing the rarefied air of Washington seem to be blissfully ignorant of.
The truth is that while politicians in Washington are living in million dollar homes and drinking expensive French wine on the tax payers dime, the economy is spitting and sputtering along like a car with bad fuel and the fiscal foundations of the United States are crumbling into insolvency. Like a blind captains the Democrats refrain to all of this is stay the course. Even many of the Republicans seem to be disconnected from reality as they regurgitate whatever the latest spoon fed talking point is.
To turn around, America’s economic ship it must first have a captain that realizes there needs to be a change in direction. That is something for which Obama and his cohorts have shown no inclination. Congress, for its part, is also filled with those for whom the beltway mentality has crowded out all reality.
A good part of the problem is that even those that go to Washington promising to drain the swamp often after getting there, as Palin put it, find the swamp more like a hot tub. It seems DC-itis is a disease few are resistant to. To combat this contagion term limits might be a good place to start but in the mean time there needs to be some house cleaning done. It is high time to give a reality check to the reality challenged in the nations capital starting of course with President himself.