If Obama Were President

The mammone -- a jobless man in his 20s, 30s or 40s who lives with mamma -- is an Italian tradition. But under President Obama, labor force participation rates of young men have plunged to Italian levels. [Credit: studenti.it]

The mammone — a jobless man in his 20s, 30s or 40s who lives with mamma — is an Italian tradition. Under President Obama, labor force participation rates of young American men have plunged to Italian levels. [Credit: studenti.it]

In Italy, they call him a mammone: an unemployed man in his 20s, 30s or 40s who still lives with mamma.

The prevalence of the mammone has long been thought to be a predominantly Italian phenomenon, with deep cultural roots.  It has grown more pronounced with the country’s recent economic distress.  Since 2008, a growing percentage of Italian men aged 25-54 have abandoned the labor force, no longer bothering even to look for work.

Italy’s workforce participation rate among men of prime working age is by far Europe’s lowest.  But it is not the lowest in the developed world.  Italy now shares that dubious distinction with the U.S.

That wouldn’t happen if Obama were President. Continue reading

How Cutting Jobless Benefits Cut Joblessness

During his December 2013 Hawaiian vacation, President Obama phoned lawmakers, asking them to extend unemployment benefits.  They did not.    Which is a good thing, according to a new study published by NBER. [Credit: Fox News]

During his December 2013 Hawaiian vacation, President Obama phoned lawmakers, asking them to extend unemployment benefits. They did not. Which is a good thing, according to a new study published by NBER. [Credit: Fox News]

A little more than a year ago, the President was distressed.  It was a few days after Christmas 2013, and extended unemployment benefits for 1.3 million people were about to expire.  In a typically perfunctory lobbying effort, he called two Senators to urge them to move a bill to preserve the benefits.

To recover from his exertions, he and his family then “ventured to the white-sand beach at Bellows Air Force Station, which is on the windward side of the island of Oahu and features turquoise water and a stunning view of the Mokulua Islands,” the Washington Post reported.

That tranquil scene augured the best year for U.S. employment growth since 1999.   According to the Labor Department, the economy added more than 3.1 million jobs in 2014.  The topline unemployment rate was 5.6% in December, down from 6.7% the prior December and the lowest rate since June 2008.

And here is the surprising major reason for the resurgence in employment: Congress spurned the President’s entreaties and let extended unemployment benefits expire. Continue reading

Have We Bungled Our Way To Success In Iraq?

A radical Islamist group called ISIS made major advances this week in Iraq. President Obama is reviewing his options. Is the best bet to let Sunni and Shiite radicals fight it out? [Credit: AP]

A radical Islamist group called ISIS made major advances this week in Iraq. President Obama is reviewing his options. Is the best bet to let Sunni and Shiite radicals fight it out? [Credit: AP]

“We’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people.” — President Obama, December 15, 2011

The President’s illusion that we accomplished our mission in Iraq evaporated this past week, when Sunni militants calling themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and flying the black flag of Islamism overran Mosul and Tikrit. The embattled Iraqi government still holds Baghdad, but its sovereignty, stability and self-reliance have been exposed for the artifice they long have been.

The truth is that things began to unravel in Iraq two and a half years ago, when we declared victory and withdrew our troops. “This is the start of the Iraqi civil war that was so obviously going to break out after we washed our hands of it,” Kenneth M. Pollack of the Brookings Institution told the Washington Post.

Yet this latest in a series of foreign policy failures may actually work to our advantage.  Having Sunni and Shiite militants and the Iranian Army crossing swords in Iraq may not be the worst thing from the perspective of US interests.

Continue reading

Unemployment Benefits and Harry Reid’s Pain

Harry Reid has embraced the pain of sequestration in his proposal to extend jobless benefits. But does it address the problem? [Credit: Roll Call]

Harry Reid has embraced the pain of sequestration in his proposal to extend jobless benefits. But does it address the problem? [Credit: Roll Call]

“I think it’s really unfair that it would be so easy to turn the sequester around and allow us to do something for the long term to take care of this issue. But no, the Republicans like the pain. They like the pain.”  — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, April 24, 2013

Harry Reid (D-NV) has lately embraced the pain of sequester. On Thursday, Reid advanced a proposal to offset the cost of extending “emergency” unemployment benefits with automatic cuts in medical spending for the elderly and disabled. Continue reading

Economic Inequality Not Obama’s Fault

 

The "Occupy Wall Street" demonstrations are a distant memory, but the economic disparities they decried still persist.  [Credit: ABC News]

The “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrations are a distant memory, but the economic disparities they decried still persist. [Credit: ABC News]

President Obama has a new plan to revitalize the middle class.  It almost certainly won’t work, but that almost certainly isn’t his fault.  Continue reading

America’s Shrinking Workforce

Unemployment officeAmerica had a bad week. We once again were reminded that terrorism represents a continuing threat, that individuals poisoned by hateful ideology can inflict great harm. We were also reminded that we are capable of responding to these brutal acts, as President Obama said, “Selflessly. Compassionately. And unafraid.”

Terrorism presents a challenge to which we’ve yet to formulate a durable response. We remain vulnerable, despite the government’s continued efforts to keep us safe.

There is another problem, less horrific in its immediate effects but no less intractable, that also is getting the better of us: the problem of joblessness. Continue reading