While many of us were reading the Sunday paper, sitting in our various places of worship or otherwise relaxing and enjoying the weekend, Austan Goolsbee, Obama's chief economic adviser, was telling Christiane Amanpour of ABC’s "This Week” that unemployment in the United States is "going to stay high.”
"This recession is the deepest in our lifetimes, the deepest since 1929," said Goolsbee, who was just appointed chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.
"More than 8 million people lost their jobs. It's going to take a significant push on our part -- and time -- before that comes down," he said. "I don't anticipate it coming down right away."
This dismal news comes just as Americans are turning a hopeful eye to recent bumps in the stock market tickers and drops in staggering figures of those receiving unemployment benefits. It also comes, ironically, as President Obama just presented new plans to help the country’s current tough economic times: a $50 billion stimulus infusion via infrastructure spending and about $200 billion in tax cuts for industry investment in research and development.
As unemployment pushes double digits, critics are wondering just how many jobs will this infrastructure spending really produce?
Gooslbee responded, "It obviously depends on how you do it," he said. "It could have a significant impact on trying to get investment in factories ... by small businesses in buying equipment, research and development and job creation in this country." "Do you have sort of a target number?" Amanpour asked. “I do not want to speculate on that," Goolsbee said. "The point of those policies, they aren't spending -- they're the government giving tax cuts to businesses to invest in this country, that's what they are."
But another consideration for Goolsbee is the election-year rhetoric and partisanship that he believes is making more unlikely the prospect of tax relief for Americans who need it most, including Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class. Still Goolsbee waxes optimistic.
"I'm not a political expert, but I believe there is a broad consensus, a middle ground if you will, that Democrats and Republicans, business people and workers can agree on, to get this economy growing faster, getting people back to work," he said. "We ought to come together."
But what happens if a miracle doesn’t happen, bringing Republican and Democratic politicians to a consensus on how and when to extend a helping hand to average Americans suffering from these tough economic times?
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