Opinion: <em>Oops!</em> As Obama talks healthcare again, new jobless claims rise again

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Remember in the messy, fingerpointing aftermath of the Democratic debacle in the Massachusetts Senate election, President Obama said that after nearly a year of healthcare speeches, healthcare town halls and secret healthcare legislative meetings, he’d gotten the message and for 2010 his Job One was what Joe Biden calls that three-letter word: J-O-B-S?

Well, that voter-driven focus lasted about a week.

Now here we are today with another carefully stage-managed healthcare summit across the street from the White House because there hasn’t been enough healthcare talk.

And the overwhelming congressional Democratic majorities that Americans believed they elected in 2008 to break partisan gridlock and finally get something done in Washington can’t agree enough among themselves to pass the legislation they wrote themselves. So why not drag in the Republicans as nationally-televised patsies?


And, lo and behold, what happens? Wouldn’t you know. Someone at the Labor Dept. didn’t....

...get the healthcare summit memo.

At the very same hour as Obama is talking about his beloved healthcare plan , out come surprising new federal numbers showing that last week new J-O-B-L-E-S-S claims unexpectedly went up -- as in more of them -- to nearly a half-million, 22,000 more than the previous week. And nearly 8% higher than the expected 460,000 new claims.

That puts the new continuing unemployed number at 4.617 million.

Add that discouraging news to other recent figures such as a further decline in consumer confidence and a new record low for new home sales in January. Other than that though, things seem to be maybe hopefully perhaps picking up, Democrat incumbents are hoping.

The official unemployment rate stands at 9.7%, somewhat higher than the maximum 8% promised last year if only the Democratic Congress would hurry up and pass its stimulus bill so the Democratic president could fly off and sign it in Denver for some reason. And Biden could start cutting ribbons at shovel-ready construction sites.

But the actual unemployment rate, including folks who’ve given up looking or have settled for parttime instead of fulltime work, is really 16.5%.

If this was private business instead of the federal government, old Joe ‘This Economic Stimulus Is Working Just Fine’ Biden might find himself on the unemployment line for his year-long economic stimulus work. But this is incumbent White House politics, so Joe’s VP job is good until mid-2012 when Obama announces his new second-term running mate, who wasn’t a senator when Obama was in the sixtrh grade.


We now return you to the regularly-scheduled healthcare summit yada-yada.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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