With Labor Day approaching, the Obama White House has bad news for the nation’s 14 million jobless workers: The bleak unemployment picture is unlikely to get any better between now and the end of next year.
Job creation is being held back by an economy that is growing slower than White House economists previously projected. In fact, the nation’s gross domestic product grew an anemic seven-tenths of 1 percent in the first half of 2011, its slowest pace in two years.
The president’s economic team now forecasts overall growth of 1.7 percent for the entire year. That’s 1 percent lower than the White House Office of Management and Budget predicted earlier this year.
Meanwhile, President Obama is preparing for his much-anticipated speech next Thursday before a joint session of Congress, during which he will lay out his plan for economic recovery and job creation.
It will include bipartisan proposals, the president said, “to rebuild the American economy by strengthening small businesses, helping Americans get back to work and putting more money in the paychecks of the middle class and working Americans.”
All while “reducing our deficit,” Obama added, “and getting our fiscal house in order.”
White House spokesman Jay Carney insisted yesterday that the president’s prescriptions will, in fact, work if enacted by the divided Congress.
“Economists will be able to look at this series of proposals,” he said, “and say that, based on history, based on what we know, based on their collected expertise, that it would add to economic growth and it would cause an increase in job creation.”
The president’s Republican critics say that the Democrat is repeating his mistakes of two years ago. Back then, he argued for a massive economic stimulus package, with an emphasis on federally-funded infrastructure projects.
The Obama administration promised that the $800 billion stimulus would foment sustained economic growth, while lowering the nation’s unemployment rate below 8 percent. But two years after the stimulus, the economy is flirting with a dreaded double-dip recession and the unemployment rate remains stubbornly high at 9 percent.
If the president somehow gets his way with Congress, if the jobs plan he unveils next week is enacted, yet 14 million Americans remain out of work next Labor Day, his prospects of winning re-election will be remote. Indeed, no president in the past 50 years has been able to return to the Oval Office when the U.S. unemployment rate has been higher than 7.2 percent.