Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

Opinion

February 13, 2013

Messer: Time to focus on jobs

BATESVILLE — This column was submitted by  Luke Messer.

More than 12 million Americans are looking for work according to the Department of Labor’s most recent report on unemployment, confirmation that the weak economy continues to plod along too sluggishly for those still without a job.  

The jobs report included other troubling news.  While the unemployment rate rose to 7.9 percent, up slightly from December, the labor force participation rate remained largely unchanged near 30-year lows, meaning many people have simply given up looking for work altogether.  We also learned that wages are just barely keeping pace with inflation, an indication that those with jobs are working harder just to pay for rising prices.  These numbers should compel the President to act as urgently and aggressively as possible to put people back to work.  

Unfortunately, the President seems to be focused on everything but creating jobs.  He hardly mentioned the economy in his inaugural address, instead choosing to lecture on a series of social issues including the threat of global climate change.  For more than a month, his public statements have left the impression that our Nation’s most pressing domestic issue is the debate over an assault weapons ban.  Worse yet, the President just closed-down his own jobs council after just a few meetings.  The President also has missed the deadline for submitting his budget for the coming fiscal year to Congress.  

It is as if the President believes America is faced with a “new normal” and his job simply is to manage our Nation’s decline.  Simply put: that is not good enough.  Our fellow Americans deserve an economy where those willing to work hard and sacrifice can find jobs with wages worthy of their contributions.  We can do better than having working families falling farther behind, despite their best efforts.  We should demand more than an economy where paltry job gains barely dent unemployment, if at all.

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