White House: Unemployment Numbers ‘Disappointing’
The White House has responded (pdf) to this morning’s bad news from The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which issued its March report today, revealing that 434,000 people lost jobs last month, increasing the nation’s unemployment to 7.8 million, or 5.1 percent. The Bush administration’s reaction: “While these numbers are disappointing, they are not entirely unexpected.”
If that wasn’t enough to set your soul at ease, the release also lays out the administration’s plans to reverse the trend. Item number one? Right — that $600 check ($1,200 or more for families) Americans will start receiving next month. It’s a cynical strategy, not least because it begs for taxpayers, already saddled in debt, to rush out and spend the cash for the sake of the economy rather than save it for the sake of the family. But it reminds of that moment following 9/11 when Americans lined up with offers to volunteer their time, donate blood, bake brownies — whatever was needed to help the country in a time of severe crisis — and the White House told us instead to go shopping. (Even GOP presidential hopeful John McCain has been critical recently of the administration’s post 9/11 advice.)
Not that the White House is the only brainchild behind the cash rebate strategy. After all, it took a bipartisan effort in Congress to get is passed. But perhaps this saga is “not entirely unexpected” at a moment in history when an act of bipartisan compromise is at least as much an accomplishment as the policy itself.