More disappointing job numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. After some positive economic indicators earlier in the year, June figures show unemployment holding at 8.2 percent, with the economy gaining a paltry 80,000 jobs. Parsing the numbers, we find that unemployment among African Americans increased to 14.4 percent “while the rates for adult men (7.8 percent), adult women (7.4 percent), teenagers (23.7 percent), whites (7.4 percent), and Hispanics (11.0 percent) showed little or no change.”
Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office, succinctly summed up the past three months of numbers: “The April jobs report was awful, May very weak, and June a disappointment.” Alan Krueger, chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, released a statement blaming George W. Bush without actually mentioning Bush, saying that “There are no quick fixes to the problems we face that were more than a decade in the making.” And on this point, voters seem to agree, with a surprising 68 percent telling Gallup that Bush is “responsible for a great deal or a moderate amount of the economy’s troubles.”
On CNN’s “Starting Point,” former Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee, who last month told ABC News that “we got to back away from” apportioning partisan blame for the sluggish economy, said that it will “take time” for the economy to rebound. Liberal writer David Corn thinks it’s “probably right” that President Obama should step up his attacks on Mitt Romney as “an unacceptable choice for voters who might otherwise select him as a way to vent their anger or disappointment with Obama and the economy.” In light of these “dismal” jobs figures, Corn says, “reminding voters that he saved Detroit and perhaps the whole freckin' economy may not be enough.” And it might stretch credulity with those suffering through this miserable recession.
During a news conference today, Romney said the figures were a “kick in the gut” and attacked the president with a measure of specificity: “The highest corporate tax rates in the world do not create jobs. The highest regulators burdens in our nation’s history — that does not create jobs. The president doesn’t have a plan … It’s just the same old ideas that have failed.” Romney then said — and this a phrase he should revisit, because it’s a powerful one — that "it doesn't have to be this way."
Walter Russell Mead, who has emerged as one of the country’s most interesting and polymathic bloggers, has a terrific post on where to go from here: “Can we all just admit this now, forty months into the Obama administration? Our economic policy mix isn’t working. Today’s job numbers for June just underline the bitter truth. We’ve spent more money and printed more money in the last 40 months than in any comparable period in American history, and what we’ve got to show for it is a flabby, out of shape recovery that the IMF warns could be heading for a new recession.”
After a recent bout of intramural squabbling among conservatives on strategy and the Romney campaign’s confused messaging in the wake of the health-care ruling, this latest evidence of America’s state of sustained economic torpor should provide Romney with a chance to refocus, sharply conveying to those suffering through the recession that, no, “it doesn't have to be this way.”