Pulling the Switch

From Washington we learn that the Obama Administration is considering steps to ease the burden of laid-off workers, including possible extensions of unemployment and health benefits.

The administration stopped short of calling for a second economic stimulus package to augment the $ 787 billion approved earlier this year, officials said, but with the jobless rate continuing to climb the president indicated that he is exploring “additional options to promote job creation”.

According to administration aides the options include:

• Extending enhanced unemployment insurance benefits beyond Dec. 31, when they are set to expire.
• Extending a tax credit for laid-off workers who buy health insurance through the COBRA program – the program that allows workers to keep their company’s health insurance plan for 18 months after they leave their job, if they pay the premiums. [Without paychecks?]
• Extending a tax credit for first-time home buyers. This credit also is set to expire soon.

No decisions have been made yet, the aides said, but not to worry – the administration has already discussed these possibilities with congressional leaders. Possibilities? Americans need real jobs, not “possibilities”. Only steady jobs will “ease the burden of laid-off workers”.

In his weekly radio and internet address Saturday, the president said his proposed health care overhaul would create jobs by making small business start-ups more affordable. If aspiring entrepreneurs believe they can stay insured while switching jobs, he said, they will start new businesses and hire workers. [But no one is “switching jobs” these days … they’re being canned!]

Obama said he has met people “who’ve got a good idea and the expertise and determination to build it into a thriving business. But many can’t take that leap because they can’t afford to lose the health insurance they have at their current job.” Strangely enough, this devious double-talk will be swallowed by millions and millions of Americans. Very few will scrutinize the president’s words.

In his campaign speeches, Obama made it sound as though he’d be creating some 3 million jobs in less than a jiffy. Some nine months into his own new job, however, he’s still casting about looking for ways to “ease the burden of laid-off workers”; he’s exploring “additional options to promote job creation”; and he expects jobs to be generated by “aspiring entrepreneurs … who’ve got a good idea and the expertise and determination to build it into a thriving business”. All this, of course, in a business climate that brought down the likes of Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns, and all but destroyed Citicorp, AIG and General Motors. This is a classic case of the blind leading the blind.

Isn’t there anyone in the administration who could break out a history book and review the steps FDR took to end the Great Depression and WWII, as well? Fifty million new jobs were created by his Emergency Shipbuilding Programs. It was the only way then, and it’s the only way now.