Editor's Note: The political horizon looks bleak: Republicans are convinced their strategy of sabotage and obstruction will put them back in charge of Congress in November; the Obama administration has squandered precious time in a quixotic search for "bipartisanship"; and the American Left is back to Ralph Nader's old formulation seeing "not a dime's worth of difference" between Republicans and Democrats.
At this crisis moment with economic pain spreading, wars continuing and global warming reaching a point of no return the American political process has rarely seemed this dysfunctional, as Danny Schechter observes in this guest essay:
As we move into the dog days of summer and a coming congressional recess, the Obama administration has shifted its focus back to the economy and wants to convince one and all that an economic recovery is just around the corner.
In recent speeches, President Barack Obama warns that the Republicans, if they take over Congress in November, will support policies that will usher in a new recession, as if the current recession is over.
"They are the same policies," Obama said, "that led us into this recession. They will take us backward at a time when we need to keep America moving forward."
Obama wants to push "distractions" like the Shirley Sherrod affair and the BP oil spill out of media so we can all get back to focusing on the economy. Wake me up when reality intrudes into a "debate" that is flawed on all sides.
The "recovery," so breathlessly trumpeted by Obama and other politicians who want it to be true, is not generating the new jobs we need. The resumption of unemployment benefits will help those who were cut off but not all who need them. Foreclosures are rising, and government programs to stop them are not working.
It is unlikely that the current policies can remedy any of this and it is certain that the Republican demand for extending George W. Bush's tax cuts for the rich will not create jobs.
There is no jobs bill about to be enacted. Many of the industries where blue-collar workers toiled are going or gone. Bailed-out General Motors just spent $3.5 billion to buy a new lending company to get those subprime loans restarted to move cars off the lot. Is this moving "backwards" or not?
Unemployment is worse than we know. The Daily Finance site reports that the firm TechnoMetrica which monitors the stats is finding the real figures shocking.
"The June poll turned up 27.8% of households with at least one member who's unemployed and looking for a job, while the latest poll conducted in the second week of July showed 28.6% in that situation. That translates to an unemployment rate of over 22%, says Mayur, who has started questioning the accuracy of the Labor Department's jobless numbers."
The site adds, "For years, many economists have pointed to evidence that the government data undercounts the unemployed. Economist Helen Ginsburg, co-founder of advocacy group National Jobs For All Coalition, and John Williams of the newsletter Shadow Government Statistics have been questioning these numbers for years.
"In fact, Austan Goolsbee, who is now part of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, wrote in a 2003 New York Times piece titled "The Unemployment Myth,' that the government had "cooked the books' by not correctly counting all the people it should, thereby keeping the unemployment rate artificially low."
Those books are apparently still being cooked. The Obama administration now admits there will no movement in the rate until 2012.
What may be more serious is the erosion of the middle class that is well underway. Business insider cites these statistics:
--83 percent of all U.S. stocks are in the hands of 1 percent of the people.
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