The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

The Rave

July 25, 2013

Moving forward, one job at a time

President Barack Obama on Wednesday kicked off a series of what the White House is calling "important" speeches to refocus the country on the economy and, particularly, on strengthening the middle class.

Good news, right? About time, right?

The middle class, the president said, has always been the "engine of our prosperity. Over time, the engine began to stall."

This is not breaking news. The engine began to stall years ago. The national unemployment rate has been above 7.3 percent every single month Obama has been in office. The unemployment rate remains higher than that in three of the four Valley counties.

So the refocus will focus on getting people back to work. It is the most important task facing the president and lawmakers in Washington. Other moving parts -- immigration, energy independence -- will go into it, but making progress on those will inevitably lead to job creation or vice-versa.

It is a laudable theme to be sure because rebuilding the middle class requires putting those people back to work. You can't start rebuilding without jobs.

Unfortunately, Wednesday's kickoff was filled with ideas and boasts we have all heard before. Raise the minimum wage. Invest in green energy and technology. Fix health care.

Even more unfortunate is that the president also doubled-down on the lines drawn in Washington's political sand.

In one sentence the president said he will "look to work with members of both parties who understand what's at stake." Yet he also said Republicans have a "fundamentally different vision for America (where) equality is inevitable and just."

That will certainly score political points with many who see the other side of the aisle as an inflexible partner. It won't, however, find answers.

The solution is not a simple one, nor is it one that will be fixed tomorrow. But the more time the president and Congress spend pointing figures and blaming the other side, is just another week, month or year that goes by without real economic recovery.

The economy, while improving in the eyes of some, remains fragile and unpredictable. Too many people are still out of work or have even given up looking for jobs. Too many people find the American Dream an elusive vision.

Now is not the time for fancy speeches rehashing old ideas or holding grudges. It is time to get the nation moving forward, one job at a time.

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