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Obama and Joblessness

Posted by Kara Miller, Culture Club  June 3, 2011 09:46 AM

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What do today's higher unemployment numbers mean for the President?

Tough reelection prospects.

For all the hand-wringing about Republican candidates (will Sarah Palin actually run? is she just fishing for a new reality show?), any candidate who is NOT Obama will have a serious chance at the White House, if the unemployment rate stays around 9%

The President's effort to fight back against the bad-news numbers - by descending on a Toledo factory to champion innovation and remind voters that the auto bailout worked - is tepid at best.

Republicans rightly point out that America's spending path is unsustainable, that cuts absolutely have to be made before vast legions of baby boomers start collecting Social Security and Medicare.

But Republicans' concern about the debt has also played its own part in stymieing the economy. When John Boehner cautions that Republicans may not vote to raise the debt ceiling, the stock and bond markets get chest pains. What's the GOP's plan? Default and not pay creditors? Let our bonds lose their allure for worldwide investors?

This morning, amidst just these sorts of fears, the rating agency Moody's threatened to downgrade America's debt if lawmakers don't get their acts together soon. Ironically, Republicans' unwillingness to admit that we must pay our debts has put additional pressure on the stock market, pushing the Dow Jones down more than 100 points at today's opening bell.

So, will it matter whether Pawlenty or Romney or Huntsman faces Obama in 2012? It may not - assuming the chosen Republican seems like a passable leader - if the economy remains this jittery.

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About the author

Kara Miller is an Assistant Professor of English, specializing in journalism, at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. She also serves as a guest panelist on WGBH-TV's “Beat the Press” and contributes to 89.7 FM WGBH (NPR). More »

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