Jobs doldrums: After the convention hoopla, it's the economy again
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Now that the political conventions are over and Americans are no longer distracted by balloons, loud music and empty chairs, it is worth taking a look at the state of the economy again.
Friday's Labor Department report, which showed a pallid gain of only 96,000 jobs in August, did not fill anyone's heart with joy, except perhaps Republican strategists. They sought to pin the non-surge on President Barack Obama, although the truth, as usual, is more complicated. The feeble state of the economy is the long-run result of nearly a decade of George W. Bush's two costly wars (the one in Iraq unnecessary), his unwise tax cuts and the debt the nation incurred to pay for it.
Mr. Obama can be held at least partly responsible for not having done enough to fix the problem. He concentrated, during the early years of his administration when the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, on health care reform. It was needed, given medicine's spiraling cost and the shameful number of uninsured, but today's economy suggests job creation should have been his top priority.
The Federal Reserve Board may decide to pump more money into the economy to restore color to the cheeks of the job market. If the Fed does that, of course, Republicans will squeal that it did so to help Mr. Obama in the presidential campaign. But that is not a reason to do it, or not do it. If the Fed acts, it should do so in the best interests of the economy and the well-being of the American people.
A Fed stimulus would be consistent with steps last week by the European Central Bank to put some order into the flirtation with financial chaos prevailing among European countries. The ECB pledged to buy the potentially dodgy bonds of countries like Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain, to keep them afloat in the short run and to save the euro zone from potentially fatal defections over the long haul.
Thus, if the United States, Europe and slightly flagging China and India can point themselves in the right direction economically, perhaps through a serious meeting of their leaders at the United Nations this month in New York, everyone might be able to breathe more easily. Who needs economic drama?
First Published September 12, 2012 12:00 am