June 5, 2008

On the economic front, the news is “ugly.”

The nation’s unemployment rate jumped to 5.5 percent in May — the biggest monthly rise since 1986 — as nervous employers cut 49,000 jobs.

The latest snapshot of business conditions showed a deeply troubled economy, with dwindling job opportunities in a time of continuing hardship in the housing, credit and financial sectors.

“It was ugly,” said Richard Yamarone, economist at Argus Research.

Of course, given the environment we’re in, economic news has an immediate impact on the political landscape, and the McCain campaign was quick to issue a statement. After noting that the rise in unemployment is a reminder of the “challenges” American families are facing, McCain said:

“…[W]e must act now to support workers, families and employers alike. This means getting our economy back on track by providing immediate tax relief, enacting a HOME plan to help those facing foreclosure, lowering health care costs, investing in innovation, moving toward energy independence and opening foreign markets to our goods. These policies will help small businesses create the jobs that families need today. The American people cannot afford more inaction from Washington.

“The wrong change for our country would be an economic agenda based upon the policies of the past that advocate higher taxes, bigger government, government-run health care and greater isolationism. To help families at this critical time, we cannot afford to go backward as Senator Obama advocates.”

As if we needed another reminder of just how far gone McCain is when it comes to the economy, his campaign offers additional evidence.

So, the economy’s in trouble and unemployment is surging. McCain says we need to cut taxes again (which hasn’t managed to help so far), pass his housing plan (written by a UBS lobbyist and created to help the industry, not families losing their homes), pass his healthcare plan (which leaves millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions behind), invest in “innovation” (though he’s actually opposed to additional spending in the federal budget), promote energy independence (despite his lacking any kind of energy policy), and more trade.

In other words, we need to keep doing exactly what we’ve been doing. More of the same. Stay the course. Stick to the policies that got us into this mess, and wait for them to stop failing. It’s bound to happen eventually.

I was especially amused by McCain’s insistence that it would be “wrong” to pursue the economic policies of the “past.” And when might that be? Does McCain mean the 1990s, when taxes were higher, unemployment was lower, growth was stronger, poverty was lower, and the deficit was non-existent? Is this the “past” McCain is anxious to avoid?

“[W]e cannot afford to go backward as Senator Obama advocates,” McCain insists. But we can afford to stick with trickle-down voodoo economics?

Can anyone actually take this nonsense seriously?

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