Martha Randolph Carr Martha Randolph Carr, 1/25/2010 [Archive]

It's About the Job Market

It's About the Job Market

By Martha Randolph Carr

Voter frustration has been building and the Obama administration doesn't seem to know what to make of the backlash to their economic policies. It's as if they don't think we're being grateful for what they've done so far. That's because a lot of it hasn't been aimed at the middle class voter.

While it may be true that President Franklin Roosevelt and President Barack Obama have had to face similar crises that occur only once in a generation, there are starting to be signs that President Obama may not have grasped some of the lessons from FDR's term.

Both men came into office with a world economic crisis that threatened to flatten an already damaged US economy while having to address a complicated and costly war on foreign soil. They also both had large social agendas that held the potential to change the American way of life. FDR introduced Social Security, a system of welfare and created large government agencies to provide jobs for a vast and diverse network of people from all walks of life.

President Obama has introduced sweeping changes to a health care system that is generally agreed to be failing and pledged billions more in taxpayer money to provide bailouts for ailing industries.

One set of policies, the ones created by FDR, worked with a single focus to get millions of unemployed Americans back to work by any means necessary and to ensure they would at least be able to stay fed or keep a roof over their family until they could secure a job. Even his successor, President Harry Truman carried on with this individual thesis by offering affordable home loans and access to college educations to GI's returning from WWII. It may have been good social policy but it was also creating a strong work force from the level that counts the most, the middle class.

The middle class is the backbone of the American economy providing the most jobs through small businesses and are the bulk of the tax base. While the giant corporations may be more visible in the media, they aren't the engine that keeps us moving forward. However, this time around under Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke's tutelage, the Obama administration decided it was the behemoths of banking and business who couldn't be allowed to fail.

The results have been predictable. The industries that were ailing due to poor business practices, such as giant automaker GM, continue to struggle. The industries that largely lead the way into the economic tsunami such as AIG or Citigroup with murky lending practices or complicated accounting took billions of bailout dollars and for the most part quickly recovered and paid off their loans to the American taxpayer. Their next move was to pass out large bonuses to themselves. Not much changed.

Again, this is all a question of where the government believes recovery really takes hold and builds a strong baseline. None of the banking and investment institutions that are now patting themselves on the back with wads of cash were obligated to come up with more altruistic ways to help out the rest of the economy. They may have had a large hand in the initial problem and they may also still be charging large fees to credit card holders and mortgage holders who lost their jobs as a result but that's all legal and business as usual.

Well, that's the problem and the reason the housing market has nose-dived and the unemployment rate continues to rise. The large corporations in America don't drive the economy, they don't support the local communities across the country and they don't ensure the most jobs or tax dollars for the most people. They just benefit from all of that.

The showy flowers at the top of the stems got all of the attention while the roots underneath were largely ignored.

Now, President Obama is talking about adding policies that will benefit the middle class but are puny in comparison to what was offered big business and are more of a band-aid to keep people from losing further ground, not a solution.

Martha's latest book to embrace change, Live Your Big Adventure is now available at Email Martha at:

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