no_unemployment_line.jpgThe unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent today, and one well-respected economist said we can expect it to go to 10 percent soon.

So, what are lawmakers doing to boost job growth in this country? Not much.

The Democrats are pushing an extension of unemployment benefits as a way to fix the problem, and Republicans seized the report as a chance to fight, yet again, for an extension of tax breaks for the wealthy as the answer to the dismal job market.

Michigan Democratic Representative Sander Levin said in a statement that: “Today’s news underscores the moral and economic obligation facing Congress right now to extend unemployment benefits for those struggling to find their next job opportunity in this slowly recovering economy.”

And House Republican Leader John Boehner urged Democrats to stop “wasting time with meaningless votes” and avert all tax hikes, according to Fox News.

I’m all for extending jobless benefits because the unemployed need all the help they can get. But that’s not the way to significantly grow jobs in this country. And while tax breaks are a good thing in a booming economy, there’s little compelling evidence that letting rich people keep more of their money will mean jobs for the average working stiff.

Neither side seems to be standing up for the workers in this country. Have they ever stood on an unemployment line? They just don’t get it.

At times like these I always check in with former Labor Secretary under Clinton Robert Reich who seems to have his head on straight.

In his blog today he said:

Only 5 percent of those with college degrees are now unemployed, while more than 20 percent of everyone else is without work.

Maybe that’s why Washington doesn’t get it. The Washington echo chamber is filled with college degrees.

The Big Money economy on Wall Street and in corporate suites doesn’t get it, either. They’re doing marvelously well because they’re tied to rapidly-growing markets in China, India, and Brazil.

But the Average Worker economy on Main Street continues to wallow.

His answer:

Not only do we need extended unemployment benefits. We need a new WPA, modeled after the WPA of the Great Depression, to put jobless Americans to work. We need a national infrastructure bank to rebuild our crumbling highways and water and sewer systems, thereby putting additional people back to work.

We needed it in the Great Depression but few think such a move is necessary now.

I was having dinner with some friend recently and we all talked about how we didn’t know anyone close to us that was jobless and struggling. That from a room full of college graduates who don’t rely on manufacturing, construction, or retail for our paychecks, at least not directly.

But indeed, people are struggling. Thanks to what I do, I was able to inform my friends that millions of people are going to bed worried about what tomorrow will bring.

[Slashdot] [Digg] [Reddit] [del.icio.us] [Facebook] [Technorati] [Google] [StumbleUpon]