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Obama Could Join the Jobless

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"Sooner or later," Robert Louis Stevenson wrote in the mid 1800s, "everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences."

Peter Morici, an outspoken economics professor at the University of Maryland, suggests to me that President Obama is a prime candidate, following the highly disappointing November jobs report issued Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The general expectation was that we'd see about 150,000 new job creations for the month following the addition of 151,000 in October, and that the jobless rate would remain at 9.6%. The experts fouled up again as only a sparse 39,000 jobs were added to the work force and the unemployment rate ran up to 9.8%.

Actually, if you back out health care, social services and temp services, the economy actually shed jobs -- 24,000 to be precise. That hardly supports Wall Street's growing pound-the-table argument that it's time to barrel into stocks because a meaningful economic recovery is clearly under way.

Morici, who describes the November jobs report as "terrible, sees "grave consequences" for President Obama, telling me this latest gory jobs chapter could lead to some primary opposition and cost him a second term.

Although he didn't say it in so many words, Morici, in effect, is suggesting that Obama -- barring a significant directional change to a more positive economic climate -- could join the ranks of the 15.1 million unemployed.

Many in the White House, of course, would challenge that, but Morici considers his view as highly logical, given his belief that Obama is unqualified to be president and that his economic policy is officially a failure. Noting that Obama has spent trillions of dollars in an effort to revitalize the economy, the good professor gives the president a dunce cap on his economic activities, observing that "the only people better off from all this spending are the foot soldiers in Detroit and his friends on Wall Street."

Morici figures that as long as Obama is president, 10% unemployment will be the new norm. With the economy 17 months in a recovery, he notes, one would expect the unemployment rate to be far less than 9.6%. (A more normal rate in such a recovery phase, I'm told, would be about 6%).

If you're hoping that Obama will pull an economic rabbit out of the hat, Morici's advice is don't hold your breath. The economy, he points out, must add 13 million private sector jobs by the end of 2013 to bring unemployment down to 6%. But Obama's policies, he argues, are not creating conditions for businesses to hire those 350,000 workers each month, net of layoffs.

Since there are at least five applicants for every available job, the implied message from Morici is don't be shocked in a few years if one of your rivals for an opening happens to be a former president.

What do you think? E-mail me at Dandordan@aol.com.

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