Syria Is Just the Latest Reason Why D.C. Won’t Do Anything About Jobs

This fall will be incredibly busy for a Congress that has problems getting things done. The unemployed will have to wait.

Job seekers at a job fair in Miami Lakes, Fla., Aug., 14, 2013.
National Journal
Matt Berman
See more stories about...
Matt Berman
Sept. 6, 2013, 4:39 a.m.

The un­em­ploy­ment rate didn’t change much from Ju­ly to Au­gust, with 7.3 per­cent of Amer­ic­ans un­em­ployed for the month of Au­gust, and 169,000 jobs ad­ded in the month. The num­bers may be im­prov­ing a bit, down from 8.1 per­cent un­em­ploy­ment a year ago, but it’s hap­pen­ing slowly. And there’s no reas­on to ex­pect Wash­ing­ton to step in and speed things up.

Since 2009, Con­gress hasn’t passed ma­jor le­gis­la­tion aimed at help­ing to shrink the na­tion’s massive pool of un­em­ployed. Even without any out­side events, there isn’t much reas­on to think now would be any dif­fer­ent. But, as it turns out, Con­gress faces a massive num­ber of obstacles be­fore even think­ing about jobs.

First and fore­most is Syr­ia. When Con­gress comes back in ses­sion next week from its sum­mer break, the first or­der of busi­ness will be fig­ur­ing out wheth­er to au­thor­ize the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s re­quest for the use of force in Syr­ia. As the last week has shown, that’ll be any­thing but easy. For all the plat­it­udes from mem­bers about how this is one of the most dif­fi­cult de­cisions they’ll ever have to make, well, right now it’s ac­tu­ally kind of look­ing that way. 

Con­gress doesn’t get a re­prieve after Syr­ia. The cur­rent fisc­al year ends on Septem­ber 30, at which point Con­gress will need to pass a new budget or tem­por­ary fund­ing to keep the gov­ern­ment from shut­ting down. Some Re­pub­lic­ans say they won’t sup­port any new money without de­fund­ing Obama­care, which could just com­plic­ate that task fur­ther. Then there’s the debt ceil­ing, ex­pec­ted to be hit around mid-Oc­to­ber. That’s an­oth­er spot where, if Con­gress doesn’t act, the gov­ern­ment could shut down.

Oh, and re­mem­ber im­mig­ra­tion re­form? The 11 mil­lion-plus un­doc­u­mented im­mig­rants in the United States surely do. The House still has a huge amount of work to do on com­pre­hens­ive re­form if any­thing is go­ing to pass through Con­gress this year.

So is there a place for ac­tion on jobs here? Prob­ably not. All of these is­sues, from Syr­ia to the budget, are likely to be not only time-con­sum­ing but also di­vis­ive. Con­gress looks set to run through a series of fast-mov­ing crises this au­tumn. It’s hard to see any way the 7.3 per­cent un­em­ploy­ment rate will get much of a look.

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 4426) }}

What We're Following See More »
LEGACY PLAY
Sanders and Clinton Spar Over … President Obama
3 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

President Obama became a surprise topic of contention toward the end of the Democratic debate, as Hillary Clinton reminded viewers that Sanders had challenged the progressive bona fides of President Obama in 2011 and suggested that someone might challenge him from the left. “The kind of criticism that we’ve heard from Senator Sanders about our president I expect from Republicans, I do not expect from someone running for the Democratic nomination to succeed President Obama,” she said. “Madame Secretary, that is a low blow,” replied Sanders, before getting in another dig during his closing statement: “One of us ran against Barack Obama. I was not that candidate.”

THE 1%
Sanders’s Appeals to Minorities Still Filtered Through Wall Street Talk
5 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

It’s all about the 1% and Wall Street versus everyone else for Bernie Sanders—even when he’s talking about race relations. Like Hillary Clinton, he needs to appeal to African-American and Hispanic voters in coming states, but he insists on doing so through his lens of class warfare. When he got a question from the moderators about the plight of black America, he noted that during the great recession, African Americans “lost half their wealth,” and “instead of tax breaks for billionaires,” a Sanders presidency would deliver jobs for kids. On the very next question, he downplayed the role of race in inequality, saying, “It’s a racial issue, but it’s also a general economic issue.”

DIRECT APPEAL TO MINORITIES, WOMEN
Clinton Already Pivoting Her Messaging
5 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

It’s been said in just about every news story since New Hampshire: the primaries are headed to states where Hillary Clinton will do well among minority voters. Leaving nothing to chance, she underscored that point in her opening statement in the Milwaukee debate tonight, saying more needs to be done to help “African Americans who face discrimination in the job market” and immigrant families. She also made an explicit reference to “equal pay for women’s work.” Those boxes she’s checking are no coincidence: if she wins women, blacks and Hispanics, she wins the nomination.

THE QUESTION
How Many Jobs Would Be Lost Under Bernie Sanders’s Single-Payer System?
13 hours ago
THE ANSWER

More than 11 million, according to Manhattan Institute fellow Yevgeniy Feyman, writing in RealClearPolicy.

Source:
WEEKEND DATA DUMP
State to Release 550 More Clinton Emails on Saturday
13 hours ago
THE LATEST

Under pressure from a judge, the State Department will release about 550 of Hillary Clinton’s emails—“roughly 14 percent of the 3,700 remaining Clinton emails—on Saturday, in the middle of the Presidents Day holiday weekend.” All of the emails were supposed to have been released last month. Related: State subpoenaed the Clinton Foundation last year, which brings the total number of current Clinton investigations to four, says the Daily Caller.

Source:
×