Dear President Obama:
I admire you in many ways, but when dealing with jobs and the economy, you have been a disappointment to me and the American people. You continuously acquiesce to Republican demands on economic matters while millions of Americans remain unemployed. You don’t stand up to them on taxes and you don’t defend the social safety net. You have coddled Wall Street and done little to change the employment situation. We hired you to work for the all the American people and not just the moneyed elite and the Republicans. In this task, you have failed.
Millions of Americans with no hope and nowhere to turn are at best a burden society. At worst, unemployment and desperation are a threat to our nation. In the long run, compassion toward desperate Americans is not only the most humane course of action, but it is the most fiscally sound.
Your jobs programs have been lacking or nonexistent. Where are the public works programs we desperately need? How do you expect to have additional revenue in the United States if by cutting the budget, you increase unemployment while not raising tax rates on those that can most afford it?
Poverty in the United States has been growing for thirty years, and none of the decisions made to address the deficit will address the poverty crisis. “In 2009, 43.6 million people were poor, up from 39.8 million in 2008. The number of people in poverty in 2009 is the largest number in the 51 years for which poverty estimates are available.” There are more children in poverty than ever, about 20%, and the fixed income the poor and elderly live on has been shrinking due to inflation and lack of increases in Social Security and other payments. Regardless of these and other facts about poverty, Congress and the White House has decided to focus on deficits and debt.
Congress and the White House decided in the recent debt ceiling agreement that cutting spending, which will lead to layoffs, was a good idea in the midst of a slow economic growth. And with the agreement, the opportunity to temporarily increase spending if we face a national crisis such as a natural disaster has been severely curtailed. Paul Krugman, Nobel laureate in economics recently wrote, “When you’re bleeding profusely from an open wound, you want a doctor who binds that wound up, not a doctor who lectures you on the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle as you get older.”
So instead of getting the much needed infusion of stimulus money to help create jobs while at the same time strengthening our weakened infrastructure, we get a lecture about how we’re giving too much to the poor. While cutting into social spending, military spending remains untouched and no new sources of revenue have been added. Any stimulus spending would be temporary, but it needs to be large enough to jump start our flagging economy. I fear if we don’t start addressing long term unemployment and poverty, we will be met with a crisis such as the riots in England of the past week.
This year, official youth unemployment in Britain has been over 20%. The youth unemployment rate has been even worse in the United States. For teenagers, 16-19, the unemployment rate is about 25%. But that’s not the whole picture. Hispanic youth have an unemployment rate of 35%, and African Americans as a whole have an official unemployment rate of over 15%.
There is an international youth crisis in employment. The Arab spring was in large part fueled by youth who had no jobs and no prospects.
President Obama, do you want to be responsible for riots in the streets of America, do you want to be seen as an oligarch who doesn’t care about his people, a modern day Hoover, or do you want to be seen as the second man in our history to save the United States from revolt and save it for future democracy and future capitalism? The time is now President Obama. Heed the warning signs of riots in Britain and protests across the Middle East, or go down in history as the man who failed to take action when his nation needed him.