Thursday, December 13, 2012

Campaign jobs talk is over, but unemployment lines haven't disappeared

It was 7:57am this morning. The air was cold, there was frost on the grass, and most of the roadways were busy with people on their way to work.

But on a section of sidewalk downtown, there was a different scene unfolding. Here, the sidewalk was full not of people on their way to work, but waiting in line to hopefully find work at the local employment office.

It's sad to see so many people out of work, and in such desperate hopes of finding a job, especially around the holidays.

But, what's also sad is how little attention is being paid to these people since the election a few weeks ago.

Once the speeches were over and the voting booths closed, it's as if the headlines evaporated. No more focus on unemployment numbers. No more talk of how to get America back to work again. All we're left with, it seems, is talk of the impending 'fiscal cliff' in Washington, D.C.

That, and of course, the lines of unemployed. They're still there, and there's little chance of them disappearing any time soon.

Democrats in Washington have adopted a two-fold strategy. First, they have lumped together all of our nation's economic woes into a neatly-composed package, which they've styled as the 'fiscal cliff' and which they have done an effective job of blaming on the Republicans. Second, the President and Congressional Democrats are fixated on taxing the rich, making limited budget cuts which wouldn't put a dent in our debt, and passing another big-ticket economic stimulus bill.

President Obama got reelected in spite of the poor economy that has plagued America for the past few years. He didn't have clear solutions to the unemployment problem during the election. And, now that he's found his way back to another four-year term, we still haven't heard anything about how he's going to fix things.

This would seem to present a huge opportunity for Republicans to make advances. But, unfortunately, Republicans are just as much to blame. Instead of demonstrating leadership and presenting their own plan for how to deal with things, Republicans have instead looked to the President to set the agenda and offered just a thumbs-up or thumbs-down. Meanwhile, Republicans have done little to debunk allegations that they're only interested in protecting the rich from higher taxes or that they're being obstructionist.

And so, the best thing that nearly one in ten Americans can do these days is to stand in line in the cold and wait for a job. But, it's tough to find reason for hope these days, with a steady stream of news of added layoffs. For example, since the election, Reebok announced plans to lay off 10 percent of its workforce, including 65 jobs right here in Massachusetts.

Democrats and Republicans must stop being obsessed with reforming entitlements and deciding how much to raise/cut taxes. Neither party seems to pay any attention to the underlying issues, things like reducing the reliance on entitlements and generating personal income through added employment. The Bush tax cuts are virtually meaningless for people who don't have a job. And, entitlement programs are a lot less necessary for people who have steady, good-paying jobs.

Obviously, our candidate of choice didn't win in November. But, now that the election is over, it's about governing, not winning. Governing requires leadership. America is in desperate need these days of real leadership. And, sadly, there is no one in either party right now who appears up to the challenge.

We're waiting to see who will step forward.