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Jobs pose shared problems

By Matt Pommer

Scott Walker and Barack Obama have the same political problem: unemployment.

Obama faces a re-election fight next year, and Walker could be facing a recall election in 2012. Both have done a lot of talking about jobs, and pollsters say it’s the top issue for many Americans.

Walker promised to create 255,000 jobs in his first four years as governor. But the unemployment rate has edged up since he has become governor, and projections indicate his 2010 campaign promise wonít be met.

Job numbers and statistical measuring bounce up and down. But the surest sign of a slow recovery was a warning from the state Department of Revenue that long-term tax revenue growth won’t be as high as projected. That’s probably the best measure of future economics for Wisconsin.

Three top officials at the Department of Workforce Development have left the Walker administration.

Meanwhile, the administration is trying to put its best face on job creation. Part of that is putting Walker’s ideas into a special session of the Legislature. The same ideas could be handled almost as fast in the regular session since Republicans have a majority in both houses of the Legislature, but the “special session” label gives an appearance of urgency for voters.

The public relations talk is about a “laser beam” approach to pro-business job creation. Count on Democrats to question whether that approach really is creating jobs.

Obama faces a different challenge. Republicans have the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. The GOP majority refuses to embrace any suggestion of raising taxes, not even for those with incomes exceeding $1 million annually.

Public opinion polls show two-thirds of citizens favor having the very rich pay for more of the country’s spending. Spending cuts are the only acceptable approach for Republicans. They contend that cutting government spending will create jobs.

With Obama’s popularity down this year, the GOP may be willing to wait for next year’s elections. It’s not the first time an American president has faced a hostile Congress going into a re-election effort.

The best remembered example is that of Harry Truman’s forecasted defeat in 1948.

Truman stunned the Democratic national convention in Philadelphia when he said he would call Congress back into session on July 26. In his home state of Missouri, that date is called “Turnip Day,” he noted, which is when farmers sow turnips no matter the weather.

In other words, it was Truman’s challenge to the so-called “Do Nothing” 80th Congress to act on his proposals.

Republicans refused to pass Truman’s agenda or the economic ideas they put into their own national convention platform. Truman won a stunning upset victory.

Matt Pommer worked as reporter in Madison for 35 years. He comments on state political and policy issues.

One comment

  1. State and federal governments have to realize you can’t legislate jobs. You can’t create jobs by passing bills. Businesses will create jobs if they feel the economic climate will sustain the job. We want to put people to work. We are willing to train and educate, but we will not hire if we feel overwelmed by regulations and taxes.

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