Mr. Obama delivered his, now very honed, post SOTU stump speech to the white and blue-collared New England crowd. He rolled up his sleeves after his ten-minute speech and took questions.
However, the questions were all about health care.
Likewise, today, in Henderson, Nevada, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D- NV) alongside, the President basically re-tweeted his New Hampshire and Elyria, Ohio speeches.
Obama was highly criticized after his SOTU speech - especially after the administration showed remarkable tone deafness regarding the Scott Brown 'Mass acre.' Thus, with introspection and trepidation, Mr. Obama subtly swung to the middle. But more importantly, he claimed - chief economic adviser Christine Romer claimed - Press Secretary Robert Gibbs claimed - and David Axelrod claimed that jobs were our number one priority.
Yet, inexplicably and under the guise of subterfuge, Obama boomeranged back to the merits of passing health care. When asked by a lifelong Nevada resident about the loss of jobs in the air line industry, and how she and her co-workers were all laid off from United Airlines, Obama, incredulously, tried to link health care to her plight.
Indeed the upcoming and much-awaited February, 25 (bipartisanship) Health Care Summit is around the corner. Thus, Obama is priming the pump and is strategically herding the Republicans into a corner.
With unemployment in Nevada around 13.5%, and with 1 in 4 homeowners in some fashion of foreclosure, the president continues with his intractable focus on health care reform. According to a Rasmussen poll, 61% of respondents say Congress should scrap the health care bill all together. Likewise, 19% of voters say it is only somewhat likely that the Democrats and Republicans will agree on a bipartisan health care plan this year. More telling is that 80% think it is unlikely to pass at all.
And although month-over-month job losses are shrinking vis-a-vis mid-2009, this is one of the worst jobless recoveries in history. With less people in the workforce, employees are working harder. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reveal productivity in the U.S. is up 6.2% for the fourth quarter of 2009. However, there are still 14.8 million Americans unemployed as of January, 2010.
More troubling is the rate of unemployment for teens and blacks - 26.4% and 16.5%, respectively. Vice-President Biden and the Obama administration have continually touted job creation at 2 million; all of these 'created' or 'saved' jobs were because of the Stimulus Plan (The Recovery and Reinvestment Act). However, even the White Houses' own recovery.gov Web site shows only 655,00 jobs created.
The job situation is only going to get worse before it gets better - all economic indicators as well as anecdotal evidence point to that conclusion.
Don Peck, of The Atlantic, writes in his March, 2010 article about the effects of joblessness:
"There is unemployment, a brief and relatively routine transitional state that
results from the rise and fall of companies in any economy, and there is unemployment - chronic, all-consuming. The former is a necessary
lubricant in any engine of economic growth. The latter is a pestilence that
slowly eats away
at people, families, and, if it
spreads widely enough, the fabric of society.
Indeed, history suggests
it is perhaps
society's most noxious ill."
Obama and company spent thirteen months pursuing health care reform in Congress - all to the detriment of millions of Americans who are out of work or are underemployed. If you promised that jobs and the economy were your top priority in 2009 and you did not deliver, why are you repeating your mistake and ignoring the people again in 2010?
Besides, does anyone really believe Obama's visit can catapult Harry Reid to victory in November? The president's magic sure didn't help in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts.