For the umpteenth time since a cascade of financial cock-ups ravaged the global economy and plunged the United States into a seemingly intractable unemployment crisis, respondents to a poll have indicated yet again that they would really, really like someone -- anyone, really -- to tackle unemployment, using whatever ideas or means they have at their disposal, they don't really care, just straight up effing do SOMETHING about it, for the love of all that is holy.
The most recent iteration of this phenomenon was reported in the National Journal:
More than anything else, voters would be happiest if Congress and President Obama focused on creating jobs, according to the latest United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll. And they don't care if lawmakers use Republican or Democratic ideas to do so.
By more than three to one, Americans said they would be "very pleased" or "somewhat pleased," rather than "somewhat disappointed" or "very disappointed," if the chief executive and lawmakers worked together to create jobs -- either by cutting taxes and regulations or by increasing federal spending on infrastructure projects.
National Journal's Alex Roarty says of this, "The survey is a wake-up call for Congress."
Ha-ha, wow, that is hilarious, Alex Roarty. You mean like the May 2013 wake-up call? Or the December 2012 wake-up call? Or the July 2012 wake-up call? Or the December 2011 wake-up call? Or the July 2010 wake-up call? Someone must have their finger on the snooze button, because that is a LOT of wake-up calls.
The last time so many people said the same thing for such a long time, and so loudly, and so often, was ... never. It was bloody "never," for Pete's sake.
From time to time, President Barack Obama sort of mentions something about maybe doing something about joblessness, and even elucidates an idea or two of his own. Those moments deserve scrutiny -- Are the president's solutions feasible? Practical? Are they serious cures or simply political posturing? And if they are serious, why won't the House GOP get in the game? As the National Journal indicates, the American people aren't picky about who gets involved: "respondents showed little variation when they were asked if they preferred cutting taxes (a conservative priority) or boosting spending (a liberal preference) to create jobs."
Most of the time, the media sort of looks at Obama's efforts to jump-start a conversation and says, "LOL, he is 'pivoting to jobs again.'" Everyone has a giggle, because what is the deal with unemployment, am I right? And in poll after poll, the American people say, "Hey, chumps, maybe after you're done having yourselves a good chuckle, you might look around and see that nobody else is laughing?"
The National Journal also reports that the "two least popular options were top GOP priorities: reducing the federal deficit and repealing the Affordable Care Act." There is nothing new here to see, folks! Old news! Non-news, if we're being honest.
Though it's perhaps unfair to refer to deficit hysteria as merely a GOP priority. Generally speaking, I think it's fair to say that the GOP most ardently wants to reduce the deficit, but in the past few years party leaders on both sides of the ideological divide have jumped on the deficit reduction game like it was a pair of UGGs on Black Friday. And debt mania has been the obsession of every glassy-eyed centrist-sociopath pundit and editor in Christendom.
When the U.S. Senate failed in its attempt to form a bipartisan deficit committee during the massive unemployment crisis (because the bill's GOP co-sponsors -- momentarily forgetting that it was a "top GOP priority," I guess! -- bailed on it), Obama resurrected the effort by forming the Simpson-Bowles Commission. "Come on, Barack," the American people said in poll after poll, "we ain't got time for this."
Simpson-Bowles, rather predictably, failed. But this deterred no one! As the unemployment crisis ground on, a new idea was hatched: the super committee. But there was a twist! This time, if the super committee failed, a set of spending cuts called the sequestration would be imposed. And the sequestration was created along this governing principle: "Hey, guys! What if we let a clinically insane person -- someone without even the barest shred of human empathy -- organize a set of spending cuts?"
The idea here -- and it really was a genius idea -- was that if lawmakers knew that their failure to act would lead to the imposition of an utterly stupid and completely psychopathic austerity package, they would absolutely get something done. Obama signed the idea into law, and Rep. Paul Ryan hailed it as the cultural change that would foster a new bipartisan spirit on the basis of avoiding punishing the American people for no good reason.
Months later, the super committee said, "Whoops!" And there went another 1.6 million jobs. "Great work, guys," said the American people.
In case you haven't noticed, another thing that the American people have been saying for many years now is that Congress is a uniquely terrible group of people, frequently rating below uncleaned litter boxes, famous serial killers, piles of human remains left in the middle of playgrounds, et cetera. Right now, I'd bet that more Americans approve of this deer carcass, left in a garbage can in Washington Heights, than approve of Congress.
Whenever an approval rating scrapes another landmark low, it touches off a lot of theorizing about the reasons why. All of those theories can be tossed in the garbage alongside the aforementioned deer carcass, to be swiftly followed by the theorizers themselves -- the reason no one likes Congress is patently obvious.
Typically, the media only joins the discussion on unemployment when this crisis of epic proportions can be characterized as problematic to the electoral ambitions of affluent politicians who, even if they lose, will be well taken care of in any number of profitable roles, such as "sitting on corporate boards" or "serving on the steering committee of a foundation" or "walking around the country giving cliche-ridden speeches" or "lobbying the Congress to do something other than fight the unemployment crisis."
Not surprisingly, in polls Americans express great dismay for and distrust of the media, too.
At any rate, in a month or so another poll will likely come along that says the exact same thing about the priorities of most Americans, and people will probably call it "a super, like, totally FOR REAL wake-up call, srsly." In the meantime, it remains an open question as to whether or not Congress will act to extend unemployment benefits to 1.3 million people after Christmas. I wonder what that will do to everyone's approval ratings if they don't?
Politics can be such an impenetrable mystery sometimes. Deer carcass 2016!
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This story appears in Issue 79 of our weekly iPad magazine, Huffington, available Friday, Dec. 13in the iTunes App store.