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In 2010 elections, Democrats may pay a big price for their blunders

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Posted: Friday, September 4, 2009 10:00 pm

In California, the unemployment rate is 12.1 percent. Only four states have higher unemployment: Michigan, Rhode Island, Oregon and South Carolina.

California's unemployment picture is unique, however, because it has affected men disproportionately.

Out of every four jobs lost nationwide since the recession began in December 2007, three were held by men.

Some experts have dubbed the phenomenon a "mancession."

The adverse impact on family income is easy to understand. Men traditionally work in the high-paying manufacturing and construction fields, the two most devastated California industries.

Women, on the other hand, are employed in lower-paying service, health care or education jobs.

The good news is that women have managed to keep their jobs. The bad news is that when men are laid off, their larger incomes (women earn just 78 percent of what a man is paid in a similar occupation) and benefits including costly medical insurance are lost, too.

Nationally, the employment picture is equally bleak. During his campaign, Obama promised the American public that the hundreds of billions of dollars pumped into the economy would prevent layoffs and revive America.

Obama sold his economic stimulus package by predicting, "Our plan will likely save or create 3 to 4 million jobs. … Ninety percent of these jobs will be created in the private sector."

To say that Obama broke his promise is an understatement. Since making his campaign pledge, Obama's administration has seen unemployment skyrocket to a national level of 9.4 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Broken down over the last six months, job losses are as follows: February, 651,000; March, 663,000; April, 539,000; May, 303,000; June, 443,000; July, 247,000.

As unsettling as these figures are, a complete picture of unemployed America evolves when the underemployed are factored into the equation.

A CNN special titled "Jobs Now" concluded that nearly 30 million Americans are either unemployed or underemployed.

The official unemployed population is 14.5 million. But when economists add 8.8 million part-time workers who want but cannot find full-time jobs and 6.2 million who have been unemployed so long that they are no longer included in labor statistics surveys, then the total unemployed reaches 30 million.

With any serious uptick in jobs unlikely, and with the economy still staggering, analysts wonder if in 2010 mid-term elections the Democrats will pay the political price for their failures.

Republicans like to compare the current political climate to 1994, during Bill Clinton's first term when the Republicans regained Congress.

Two major factors are in play today for Obama that were not involved back in 1994. Neither bode well for Obama (or the Democrats) over the short or long term.

Leading up to the 2010 mid-term elections, the current uproar over unemployment, the mortgage crisis, the deficit and, most importantly, health care are much greater than anything that occurred in 1994.

Under Clinton, the country had already pulled out of a recession, but nevertheless the Democrats suffered catastrophic defeats by losing 54 representatives in the House and eight in the Senate.

If the Congressional mid-terms went badly for the Democrats in 1994 under much better economic circumstances, even larger 2010 defeats may loom.

As for Obama and 2012, while that date is a long way off, dark clouds are gathering.

Although Clinton had no trouble getting reelected in 1996, he is a much smarter and smoother politician than Obama. The liberal Clinton, an Oxford scholar, understands economics.

Obama, on the other hand, knows nothing about economics and is on the extreme left wing of his party, as opposed to the majority of Americans who are moderates.

While it's uncertain whether the Republicans will capture either the House or the Senate next year, they will make significant gains. By so doing, the GOP will lay a foundation for 2012 to take both Congress and the White House.

Joe Guzzardi retired from the Lodi Unified School District in 2008. He now lives in Pennsylvania where the unemployment rate is 8.5 percent. Contact him at guzzjoe@yahoo.com.

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