The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio


February 28, 2012

February 25, 2012 Letters to the Editor: Lorna Westlake

Obama turning things around

On Feb. 3 the monthly jobs report came out showing the economy had added 243,000 jobs in January and the unemployment rate had fallen to 8.3 percent. It looks like we are on our way to climbing out of the huge hole created when the economy cratered in 2008. The Great Recession of 2008 is the single worst economic disaster since the Great Depression.

Job losses didn’t end on Jan. 20, 2009, when Obama took office. When Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008, it first sent shock waves through the stock market which in turn sent shock waves through the job market. The peak of job losses occurred in October 2009.

Since that time the unemployment rate has steadily declined with occasional upticks of .1 percent or .2 percent, only to resume its downward trend. Since March 2010 every month has seen a growth in private sector jobs. In 2011 alone 1.9 million private sector jobs were added. This gain was offset by the loss of 280,000 public sector jobs, many of them teachers. The total net gain in jobs for 2011 was 1.6 million jobs.

It has taken a lot of effort by the Obama administration to turn things around. The much maligned Obama stimulus package, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, created or saved between 900,000 to 4.7 million jobs in 2010 and between 600,000 and 3.6 million in 2011.

Republicans like to claim the stimulus was a failure but they are simply wrong.

When Obama took office the national debt was  $10.7 trillion. There has been a yearly deficit in each of his years in office. Why? When people are not working, incoming tax revenues are reduced. In 2010, this alone accounted for one-third of the deficit. When you add the cost of unemployment insurance, increased Medicaid and food support programs that the Great Recession entailed, you begin to understand how the recession itself helped to create the deficit.

The costs of supporting or jump-starting the economy by continuing Bush’s auto bailouts (1 million jobs saved) and the aforementioned stimulus, added to Obama’s share of the deficit. Any expectation or demand that Obama balance the budget during this economic catastrophe shows a basic ignorance of history (can you say Hoover?) and economics, and is sheer lunacy. Obama has been doing a good job of digging us out of this hole. What we don’t need now is to return the Republicans to power so they can drive the economy back into the ditch.

Lorna Westlake


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