Should members of the LSU Board of Supervisors disclose who receives their scholarships?|
|How 'bout some 'rithmetic|
Let's give the devil his due.
Bill Clinton is a gifted speaker. Compared to President Barack Obama, the former president is as impressive as Ronald Reagan, John Kennedy and Abe Lincoln. Combined.
Clinton regaled the Left last week at the Democratic National Convention, serving as the keynote speaker the night before Obama took the stage to accept his party's nomination for a second term. It was Clinton at his finest, so much so that he clearly overshadowed the sitting president, whom he anointed as "the standard-bearer of the Democratic Party." It was embarrassing, for Obama that is.
Not one to pass on an opportunity to remind us of better times, back in the 1990s when he was president, Clinton delivered some memorable lines in his 48-minute speech. A few of them are worth revisiting.
"People ask me all the time how we delivered four surplus budgets," Clinton said. "What new ideas did we bring? I always give a one-word answer: arithmetic."
In discussing why he feels the country should maintain its current course and re-elect Obama on Nov. 6, Clinton said, "I like the argument for President Obama's re-election a lot better … (he) began the long hard road to recovery, and laid the foundation for a modern, more well-balanced economy that will produce millions of good new jobs, vibrant new businesses, and lots of new wealth for the innovators."
Since Clinton brought it up, let's take a look at some figures – some 'rithmetic, if you will – that surfaced late last week when the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its jobs report for August.
At first blush, the drop in the unemployment rate from 8.3 percent to 8.1 percent was encouraging. The economy must be improving, one might surmise. But drill down on that jobs report and you'll find some alarming figures that tell us the U.S. economy is going nowhere fast. Dig down even further and you'll discover that the employment picture across the country may be in as bad a shape as it was shortly after the financial sector collapsed in the fall of 2008.
According to the government, the economy created some 96,000 jobs in August. The experts were expecting 125,000 new hires. Either one of them is far short of the 300,000-plus new jobs the economy needs to create each month for the next five years to make up for the jobs that began to disappear when Wall Street took a plunge.
Some 41 percent of the people who are counted as unemployed, or 5.2 million, have been out of work for at least 27 weeks. Some eight million people who are out of work are not counted among the unemployed because they haven't looked for a job in the past month.
Some 15 percent of the workforce is holding down part-time jobs. They didn't get that way because they only care to work two to three days each week. No, they were downsized to part-time, involuntarily, and they're still looking for full-time gigs.
Younger people, particularly recent college graduates, are having a hard time finding work because so many older Americans have remained in the workforce. In fact, employment among the 55-year-old-plus age group is up by 3.9 million since the recession began in earnest, though a total of five million fewer people are working today than in 2008.
Older Americans are working because they either can't afford to retire or they are scared to do it. After all, scores of them lost a barrel of money when the markets collapsed in '08. Some have lost 75 percent of the value in their homes.
Yet, the most alarming figure to contemplate on the jobs front is a simple one. That is, fewer Americans are working today than in 2000, or some 12 years ago, though the U.S. population grew by 31 million over that period.
It goes without saying that Clinton endorsed Obama because he was expected to do it. Something tells me, though, that even Clinton – deep down – knows Obama's policies to reinvigorate the economy have failed.
But, regardless of how you feel about him, Clinton is the master at capturing an audience's attention, even when he's trying to prop up an unmitigated failure.