With every good intention and with one of the most precise 'promise-full' agendas in the history of American electoral politics, Barack Obama sailed his new ship of state into the White House in January 2009. And then the "gang who couldn't (or didn't want to) steer the ship straight" almost immediately ran his jobs and trade promises aground. It's past time for President Obama to declare a full-scale jobs emergency and to demand that Congress get on board.
President Obama touted his National Export Initiative this week, boasting that in the first quarter of this year, exports were up 17% from a year ago. Increased exports abroad generate jobs at home. Given the numerous economic problems we see reemerging of late, a little good news comes as welcome relief. But don't break out the spirits. Exports are a delectable appetizer, but the full meal is less digestible. Imports count too. Buying stuff abroad that could be made here displaces jobs. What matters is the balance of trade, not simply the rise or fall of exports.
Last Friday, President Obama said, "Make no mistake, we are headed in the right direction [even as] we continue to fight headwinds from volatile global markets." In fact, we're not even close to making sufficient progress in reemploying America, and those "headwinds" are actually powerful turbines pointed in our faces by China and Mexico (and India). I can only hope that the depressing trade and real unemployment numbers will wake up Obama and his economic team to the reality that if they want to reach their export and trade goals and materially reduce U.S. unemployment, they need to materially change course.