The Post reports: “Businesses began to slow hiring in September, even before the fiscal crisis in Washington sapped Americans’ confidence in the economy, according to data released Tuesday morning. The long-awaited monthly employment report from the Labor Department shows the economy added 148,000 jobs in September, well below analysts’ expectations and down from nearly 200,000 jobs the previous month. The unemployment rate dipped to 7.2 percent.” (The consensus was 180,000.)
Doug Holtz-Eakin, the head of the conservative American Action Forum explains:
The labor force gained only 73,000 workers and labor force participation was flat at 63.2 percent. As has been true for too many months to count, this remains at a decade’s low rate. The private sector created only 126,000 jobs – very weak – and the government added to employment growth leading into the shutdown. . . . The September report showed that the labor market was weakening – close to stall speed – leading into to government shutdown and debt ceiling fight. To the extent that consumer confidence holds up, the economy will continue to muddle along, but downside risks are rising and long-term, pro-growth policies are desperately needed.
This report is only the latest reminder that for all the political fixation on Obamacare, the shutdown and the debt, the overriding concern for average Americans is the economy. If not unemployed or underemployed, many Americans operate under the fear of job loss and/or stagnant wages. This, in part, is why it makes sense for Republicans to aim low on the budget haggling and go for something tangible and job-stimulating: an energy bill.
Opposition to domestic energy production is not a “red line” (pardon the expression) for Democrats in Congress the way defending Obamacare is. Especially with senators and congressmen from energy-producing states, there is room for common ground. It is not the cure-all for the economy, but domestic energy development is at least a spur to job creation, a national security plus and a recipe for reduced costs for fuel and consumer products.
While President Obama is exhausting the public’s patience with Obamacare spin, the GOP should offer a concrete and doable proposal to help the economy. Having spent so much time annoying the public, it might earn them some plaudits.