Just before taking office, Barack Obama called on the millions of people who were directly involved in his campaign to stay active: "I don't want them to just sit around and wait for me to do something," he said, "I want them to be pushing their agendas."
Well, since he asked for it, let's shove this agenda forward: Jobs. Middle-class jobs. Jobs with a future and a satisfying purpose. Lots and lots of those jobs.
Obama has talked often about jobs, but he's put little presidential heft into creating them. Indeed, even as unemployment soars to 10 percent and the number of under-employed Americans almost doubles that percentage, the administration lacks a sense of urgency that ordinary families feel.
Debbie Kransky, 51, who lives in Milwaukee, has been out of work since February, despite being constantly on the hunt. Her unemployment benefits have run out, and her life savings have been depleted. As she told the New York Times, "I've got October rent. After that, I don't know. I've never lived month-to-month my entire life. I'm just so scared, I can't even put it in words."
There are millions of Debbies, yet Obama doesn't seem to be in touch with the aching anxiety and growing anger of these people.
They saw the unprecedented, multitrillion-dollar federal bailout to save Wall Street banksters, and now they hear that the recession is "over" — yet there are six unemployed people for every job opening. Obama, however, recently brushed off this reality, saying: "As you know, jobs tend to be a lagging indicator; they come last."
Hello — jobs are not an "indicator," they're the sustainer of families, the lifeblood of our middle-class society. Franklin Roosevelt, in his time of deep national insecurity made jobs first, not last. And so should Obama. Soon.
In fact, now would not be too soon.
Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.
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