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Several seemingly well meaning pundits have asked: if Occupy Wall Street wants jobs, why don’t they come out and support President Obama’s jobs bill? Answering only for myself, the better question is: why doesn’t Obama support his own jobs bill? The White House is claiming that it needs sixty votes to pass the jobs bill in the Senate to overcome a threatened filibuster by Republicans. Maybe, but are these the same Republicans who just passed his toxic free-trade agreement with South Korea, Panama and Colombia with bipartisan support from Democrats? Why yes they are.
At this point in history, the evidence is in that these free trade agreements are a neo-liberal hoax to transfer jobs from the U.S. to low wage countries. Anyone who cares to can view the facts for themselves in the government statistics—the decline in U.S. manufacturing jobs has a very high correlation with the advent and implementation of free-trade agreements. Not only have manufacturing jobs been in absolute decline for more than a decade, the Participation Rate, the percentage of the working age population that is employed has been declining with it. As for the purported benefits of so-called free trade, where are they?
So Obama is willing to go to the mat with Republicans to send U.S. jobs elsewhere with a free-trade agreement but he is making only a symbolic effort to pass his weak, pathetic three-and-one-half-years late jobs bill because he needs more votes than George W. Bush ever needed to get his legislation passed?
But what has Obama accomplished with his jobs bill? The panel of pundits on a recent NPR roundtable agreed that he has gotten his poll numbers up on “who cares more about the economy, the president or congressional Republicans” by a full ten points. That is, Obama got what he wanted, an increase in his poll numbers, by creating the appearance of trying to create jobs without creating any jobs. And he did this while destroying jobs in the U.S. with a free trade agreement passed by the same Republicans he claims are holding his jobs bill hostage.
So, support Obama’s jobs bill? Thanks anyway, but Barack Obama and the dysfunctional political system that he represents is the problem. Getting cynical opportunists like him out of public office is the priority, not forever playing the patsy to his misdirections.
Rob Urie is an artist and political economist living in New York.