Friday's unemployment numbers for the month of December did not reflect the dramatic drop we saw in November from 9 percent to 8.6 percent, but there was a drop none-the-less. The new unemployment rate of 8.5 percent for the general population, 15.8 percent for Blacks and 11 percent for Hispanics comes with the addition of 200 thousand jobs to payrolls. Friday's announcement was good news for the economy though not great; the DOW fell 55 points.
The release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics also plays a political role now that we are in full swing for the 2012 election. At a time where all of President Obama's opponents, both declared and undeclared are calling him the best foodstamp President we've ever had, he now has numbers to back up his claims he is putting Americans back to work; even if it is not as quickly as we would like.
House Speaker John Boehner long called President Obama and the Democratic party the party of foodstamps. The moniker was given following the passage of the Affordable Care Act and the shellacking midterm elections which brought Republicans into power in the House. Now we find Republican Presidential Candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum trying to appeal to the Black vote by calling the first Black President a food stamp politician. Gingrich has gone further to compare the 2012 election to the election of 1860; you know the one that resulted in secession, Civil War... and ... and ... and ... oh right, the end of slavery.
I understand the Republican Presidential Candidates want to challenge the President's shoddy economic record but their own policies aren't much better. When Gingrich first made reference to "food stamp President" PolitiFact posited this question:
Setting aside the racial angle I say no. When Obama came into the White House on January 20, 2009 the first item on his agenda was to pass a stimulus. The American Recovery and Reinvestment act was 95 percent tax cuts for the middle class. One of those tax cuts was the payroll tax cut. The tax cut Republicans and Democrats couldn't agree on how to extend just two weeks ago. Also in the stimulus; mortgage modification programs to help people facing foreclosure stay in their homes, the wildly popular "Cash for Clunkers," then there was the equally popular among homeowners "Cash for Appliances" where you trade in your old washing machine, refrigerator etc. for a more energy efficient one and receive a rebate courtesy of your Uncle Sam. The stimulus also provided "shovel ready" projects for our infrastructure. How many road construction projects have you seen with this sign:
The purpose of the $787 billion stimulus plan was to save or create two million American jobs. That doesn't sound like much when 14 million Americans were out of work at the height of the recession but it's a start. Where the stimulus failed is in its myopia. The plan was only meant to work for two years. When the money ran out cities, states and the private sector were supposed to takeover the job creation bolstered by the Federal government. That didn't happen. Cities and states were running astronomically high deficits that put them in the positions where they could not pay for firefighters, police officers, teachers and other civil servants.
Job cuts came a calling once again but that is not necessarily through the fault of the President alone. His plan did what it was supposed to do but the private sector never responded. The much maligned $700 billion bank bailout put capital into the biggest banks in America which have only gotten bigger. The banks now had more money than ever but refused to lend it out. Keeping credit tight and hoarding money that doesn't belong to you keeps the private sector stagnated in such a way that even if small business owners wanted to hire more employees they simply can't because banks aren't being generous enough to take a good risk because of all their bad behavior beforehand. Talk about the worst time to realize hindsight is always 20:20.
Since the passage of the stimulus in February of 2009 there has been little other legislation, whether introduced by Congress or the President himself with the desired effect of getting people back to work. For a while Congress blamed the President for his lack of leadership; i.e. the year and a half spent on health care/insurance reform vs. the economy is/was seen as a waste of time. (Just like the bill to repeal the health care law only passed in the House is/was a waste of time.) But this past summer the President introduced a bill, the $447 billion American Jobs Act, with the desired effect to put the people back to work. The bill in its entirety has been a failure. Only pieces of it have been signed; those specifically pertaining to veterans. Other parts of the bill put into action have been done by executive order or appointment allowing the President to circumvent the intransigent Congress and do what needs to be done on his own.
Such action is not the President pandering to the welfare Kings and Queens by allowing them a pass on getting a job and an unlimited amount of food stamps via EBT. This is our government as a whole neglecting to do something, anything to help those who can no longer help themselves because our financial system and government has failed them.
The Republicans call President Obama a food stamp President when in actuality it is their own partisanship, in-fighting and bickering that has kept a record 46 million people waiting for their benefits to make a midnight run.
In the meantime, the private sector has been rebounding on its own with little help from government aside from a few tax cuts to make it easier to hire employees, and Americans' own discontent with the economy has seen them bucking the trend of scrimping and saving in favor of going balls to the walls shopping though the majority of us will never be "Ni**as in Paris."
The President thus gets credit for his slight participation in this recovery just as he would be credited if the whole thing went to hell in a hand basket.
The fact that 200,000 people were added to payrolls is an Obama accomplishment. Proof he's putting paychecks, not food stamps, into the pockets of his people.
But Newt Gingrich doesn't see it that way. He wants to address the NAACP on exactly why Obama's not the one for them/us; food stamp tendencies and all. He wants to put children back to work as janitors in their own school because they have no one to look up to about the merits of hard work and responsibility. Rick Santorum doesn't want to help "blah" people get on welfare but get a job in the manufacturing sector. A sector which hasn't truly existed in these United States in decades. America doesn't make anything but celebrities.
As for front runner and presumed next President, Mitt Romney, his tax plan as analyzed by the independent Tax Policy Center would increase taxes on Americans making $20,000 by 60 percent while Romney and his uber rich friends would see a tax cut of up to 15 percent. The reason behind Romney's plan: to ease the burden on job creators; yet we all know thanks to Warren Buffet cutting taxes for the super rich doesn't entice them to create jobs. Just look at our millionaire Congress, none of whom have yet to co-sign a jobs plan.
So Mitt Romney; who's putting people on food stamps now. How you rescue the rich on the destitution of the already impoverished is beyond me.
The Republican characterization of President Obama as a food stamp President is false, undeserved and as we saw in Rick Santorum's case, racially motivated. Furthermore, federal food assistance is determined by income not ethnicity. As shown in the Kate Snow piece White people are on food stamps too. It's not just a Black thing. This fact further proven by stats from the Department of Agriculture which break down food assistance by race: 5.5 million are white, 3.4 million are Black and 1. 5 million are Hispanic.
Putting paychecks into people's pockets is not party or race specific. It is ideologically motivated. And unfortunately or fortunately the Republican ideology is not aligned with putting paychecks first.
"The Republican message that cutting taxes for the wealthy and reducing the size of government are crucial to ensure prosperity have proven false, and regardless of the frequency of their message, Americans experiencing declining wages and lack of jobs are learning firsthand that the grand Republican ideology is a failure of epic proportion."Eight years of Bush 43 illustrates what happens when you believe in trickle down effect economics more than in the statisticians's releases from your own Cabinet. Trickle down economics doesn't lead to more paychecks it leads to more disparities: fewer jobs, lower wages, and higher amounts of people on foodstamps. But I guess calling yourself and your own party the party and Presidency of foodstamps is off-message and counter-productive to your entire campaign.
But if true, why are you running?
1. Why do you think Republican candidates are running on these same economic policies that have been failing us for decades?
2. Is there a way to critique the Obama Presidency without race being a factor as it so often seems to be.
3. Is the record number of people on food assistance the result of economic policies of a specific Presidency or Congress or is it more to do with the wealth and income gaps persistent in our country.
4. Will the paychecks vs. food stamp narrative end if a White Male President ends up in office even if the numbers don't necessarily change.