Can we afford another 8 years?
With the release of the May monthly Jobs Report, the 38,000 new jobs was the worst in five years and 120,000 fewer than what many economists were forecasting.
And to make matters even worse, the March and April numbers were adjusted downward by 59,000 fewer jobs than originally reported. So what does this all mean? The Government is stating the unemployment rate in May at 4.7 percent, which on the surface appears to be a number that is tolerable. What it doesn’t take into account is the number of people no longer actively looking for employment. And according to the Government’s own numbers, 362,000 people dropped our of the labor force in April. FiveThirtyEight tabulates there are now 600,000 discouraged workers roughly 300,000 more than when the recession began. None of these statistics reflect a positive light for the party in power.
The national debt will certainly be another topic of prime time discussion for the fall.
The USDebtClock.org currently shows the national debt at $19.28 trillion with the Federal Budget Deficit at $511 billion. The rising debt load of older Americans has increased 60 percent between 2003 and 2015. And as for those averaging 25 years of age, in 2003 their student debt was $5,000. Today it is slightly in excess of $11,000. Also, not good for the incumbents is the fact the national debt has increased more in the previous eight years than in all previous administrations combined.
Another area of concern by many Americans is national security and how this relates to the strength of the Armed Forces. With only 1.4M military personnel on active duty (2.7 million total), the numbers have decreased such that the ability to defend the country on two major fronts would be hard pressed. Whoever wins in November will have to address this situation immediately especially in lieu of the state of world affairs and the escalation of Russian and Chinese confrontations on the high seas and in international waters.
Turning the page back to the economy and the subject of food stamps, more than 46 million Americans are receiving benefits and have been for 35 straight months, according to the Department of Agriculture. Those states and district with the highest number of recipients are Mississippi; District of Columbia; New Mexico; Oregon; Tennessee; West Virginia; and Louisiana. These inflated numbers place even more stress on a debt heavy nation that has an ever aging population.
Gallup has been tracking the percentage of satisfied Americans with the way things are going in the US for decades, all the way back to the Carter-Reagan election. At that juncture, only 20 percent of Americans were satisfied, the primary barometer Carter lost. That percentage as of right now is at 28 percent. In 1988 when Bush I won it was 42 percent, but it dropped to 26 percent in 1992 and 13 percent in 2008, elections both won by the party out of office.
Regardless of how any of the aforementioned might impact the voters’ decisions, what could have the greatest influence is the new President’s appointment of Supreme Court Justices. According to former House Speaker, Newt Gingrich, the court could be altered considerably, possibly for more than a generation to come by the direction the appointments tilt. And with the second amendment on the “hot seat,” this factor alone could be the trigger finger for the electorate.
Steve Vassallo is a contributing columnist and Oxford resident. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.