We mock economists for using the adverb “unexpectedly” in response to almost every bit of bad news over the past two years, but today’s news that unemployment is back up to 9.8 percent seems genuinely surprising. About a half-hour after this morning’s numbers were released, one CNBC anchor closed a segment, “After the break, we’ll have your e-mails about signs of economic recovery,” then he paused and chuckled, motioning to the unseen teleprompter. “Yeah, that was written before 8:30.”
One of the economists made a compelling case that as the “discouraged workers” start looking for work again, the official size of the workforce will increase, and we’ll see the unemployment rate go above 10 percent sometime this winter.
President Obama will address the numbers this morning, but there’s little reason to expect we’ll hear much new. He’ll argue that the bad news shows that everything he wanted passed before — tax hikes on the rich, extended unemployment benefits, heck, maybe even START — now really must be passed. You’ll probably see the predictable line from the usual suspects that the bad economic news means more pressure on congressional Republicans to compromise.
Hogwash, of course. Obama and the Democrats had their turn at bat and struck out on three pitches. None of their pledges of a recovery summer (or fall, or winter, or spring) have panned out. The notion that the American people will suddenly embrace their approach on the eve of the Republicans’ formally retaking power is nonsensical.
Boehner weighed in this morning:
House Speaker-designate John Boehner (R-OH) this morning called on the lame-duck Congress to cut spending and stop all the looming tax hikes after the Department of Labor reported that unemployment rose to 9.8 percent in November despite Obama Administration projections that the ‘stimulus’ would keep unemployment below eight percent. Joblessness has now topped 9.5 percent for 16 straight months, the longest such stretch since the Great Depression. Boehner issued the following statement:
“Any sign of job growth in this struggling economy is encouraging, but clearly no match for the uncertainty families and small businesses are facing, which is why we must cut spending and stop all the looming tax hikes.
“Unfortunately, Democratic leaders continue to insist on wasting time with meaningless votes as they try to make it as difficult as possible to stop their job-killing tax hike. Families and small businesses have had enough of politicians in Washington talking about creating jobs while doing everything in their power to kill more jobs. This is exactly the kind of Washington game-playing the American people voted against on Election Day. The lame-duck Congress should do the right thing and vote immediately to cut spending and stop all the tax hikes. If they don’t, the new House majority will in January.