Surprise is a brief mental state experienced by humans as the result of an unexpected event that can be pleasant, unpleasant, positive, or negative. It is incomprehensible that anyone would be, or could be, surprised over an event that was foretold ad nauseum would happen in the near future; especially when it was based on hard empirical data. It was astonishing, really, that when the December jobs report showed the economy added only 74,000 jobs, media reported that the numbers were “surprisingly weak,” particularly since the economy seemed to be on the upswing. What is surprising is that for the past year economists have warned that the true job-killing effects of Republicans’ economic agenda would begin taking effect at the end of 2013 and no-one is saying “we told you so,” and it is curious why not.
It is important to remember that Republicans came into the 112th session of Congress promising they would focus on creating jobs and immediately began a crusade to reduce the nation’s long term deficit and cut domestic spending. Every economist warned Republicans that taking money out of the economy was the fastest way to kill jobs, but instead of heeding real economists’ warnings, they launched a job-killing crusade that has not yet reached its climax. John Boehner was warned the first round of GOP spending cuts would kill a million jobs and he said “so be it.” Republicans are not the least bit surprised the jobs numbers were “lower than expected” because it was exactly what they expected and they took advantage of the December report to assail the Obama Administration.
Republicans argue that the jobs report underscores the President’s economic policies have failed after claiming the economy was improving, but they leave out one very important point. The economy is indeed improving for Wall Street, corporations, the oil and pharmaceutical industry who recorded record profits that the nation’s economic growth is measured by. Republicans claim that Congress should focus on creating jobs by gutting regulations and cutting taxes, but business owners need paying customers that are in short supply because Republicans have been frantically taking money out of the economy to kill jobs.
For three years Republicans focused on reducing the nation’s long term deficit that does not, will not, and has not created even one job; yet it dominates Republicans’ economic agenda. They have also implemented severe austerity and cut domestic spending that does not, will not, and has not created even one job because it takes money out of the economy and kills jobs; cutting regulations and taxes will not change the fact that Americans are cash-strapped. The Congressional Budget Office warned on several occasions that the Republican sequester will kill 1.6 million jobs through fiscal year 2014, and cautioned its effect on jobs would begin being felt in the fourth quarter of 2013. One can only imagine the horrid job numbers if the economy was not in as good a shape as it is now. The media is “surprised by the weak job numbers” and Republicans blame the President, but for anyone paying attention, the weak numbers were right on schedule with Republican plans to kill jobs and thwart economic recovery for everyone but their corporate donors.
The last three months of 2013 gave Republicans more opportunities to kill jobs and they used the government shutdown, food stamp cuts, and unemployment benefit expiration to great effect. The government shutdown cut 0.25% from annual economic growth and cost 120,000 jobs in just its first 12 of its’ 16 day run. It hurt the housing industry by halting IRS verifications for mortgage applications, and small businesses were hurt by the shutdown of Small Business Administration loan guarantees. In addition, the CEA report by Harvard economists said the shutdown “affected consumer spending and business investment and hiring as well” and warned “the economic data over the next quarter or more are likely to be ghastly.”
The November 1st $5 billion in food stamp cuts (for 2014 alone) will have their own devastating effects on jobs because each dollar of food stamps infuses well over $1.70 of spending in the economy that creates or sustains jobs. Most economists say food stamps (SNAP) have a “multiplier effect of 2 to1” that means every food stamp dollar has amplified economic benefits primarily helping grocers and the food production industry that benefits when recipients shop in their stores. John Boehner worked behind the scenes in November to kill more jobs during talks between the House and Senate to pass a still-languishing farm bill because despite negotiators finding common ground on a bill, the Speaker demanded steeper food stamp cuts that quashed the farm bill.
Republicans also will have killed an additional 240,000 jobs in 2014 according to The Council of Economic Advisers who estimated that not extending the unemployment benefits will have a deleterious effect on hiring because, like every Republican policy that takes money out of the economy, it kills existing and potential jobs. In fact, every dollar spent on programs like food stamps, unemployment benefits, and all other domestic programs is immediately spent and put back into the economy and not hoarded like the wealthy, Wall Street, corporations, and the oil industry that have recorded obscene profits over the past year but not hired. It is why the third quarter economic report was misleading in its alleged good news because although big business invested in inventory that raised GDP significantly (3.6%), real growth (Gross Domestic Income) rose only 1.4% that means Americans do not have money to spend that is key to business expansion and hiring.
The December jobs report was not a surprise, but it was weak and precisely what Republicans wanted and economists predicted. Republicans launched a campaign to gut regulations and cut taxes that has never created jobs because it puts money in the hands of corporations and big business and not the people who drive job creation; American consumers. Besides 1.6 million jobs expected to be lost due to the sequester, the government shutdown killed at least 120,000 jobs in its first six days, and the $5 billion in food stamp cuts in 2014 will take $10 billion out of the economy and kill more jobs. Not extending unemployment benefits will kill 240,000 jobs on top of the nearly one million lost during 2013 before the shutdown, food stamp cuts, or sequester had time to do their job-killing damage. This is the message President Obama and Democrats have to drive home to the American people who know they are either jobless or barely surviving much less having money to spend that creates jobs.
Business owners know why they cannot hire new workers, or expand, and it has nothing to do with regulations or taxes. They also know that as fewer Americans have money to spend they will have to start letting workers go just to stay afloat and that no amount of tax cuts or deregulation will bring in customers. Despite all the damage Republicans have wrought on the economy, or the number of jobs they deliberately killed in 2013 alone, they spent the last three months killing nearly another million jobs in 2014 in addition to nearly a million in 2013 and 1.6 million slated for 2014 due to the sequester. The only people surprised by the “surprisingly weak” December jobs report were comatose over the past year, because the CBO, real economists, President Obama, and Republicans knew it was coming; only Republicans celebrated because their plans were bearing fruit.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.