Is there a double dip in our future?

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Column by Jim Flynn

To recapture the White House in 2012, Republicans will have to defeat the most clever U.S. politician since Bill Clinton, who managed to get re-elected in 1996 despite scandals, investigations, and persistent political sniping. Like movies, political campaigns attract fans with hoopla and charisma.
Last week, in his seventh call for an attack on unemployment since entering the White House in 2008, President Obama made an invigorating re-election campaign speech about jobs and economic recovery to a national audience.
Mr. Obama maneuvered the House of Representatives into granting a joint session of Congress as the setting for his address, a venue usually reserved for state-of-the-union speeches and declarations of war. Technically, the president’s speech was a bit of both.
Of course, government has only one way to create jobs - hiring more federal, state, and municipal employees, whose continued employment becomes a permanent obligation of taxpayers after federal stimulus money has been spent. Real job creation is the function of the private economy, which creates taxpayers, not tax receivers.
Acknowledging that reality, the president’s new jobs plan includes extended unemployment benefits, continued payroll tax cuts for small businesses, tax credits for new hires, and construction and repairs to roads, bridges, and schools.
For those who didn’t notice, the president’s previous job stimulus, which promised to keep unemployment below 8 percent, was a total failure. Only 42 percent of people hired were unemployed. Most were musical chair transfers from other companies.
Where was $800 billion of the first stimulus money spent? Aid to states for Medicaid, transportation, and housing; volunteering and social services; Indian reservations; energy and environment; commerce and science; food and farming; and tax cuts. When government throws huge amounts of money into the air, many dollars drift to unintended places and produce uncertain results.
The certain beneficiaries of the president’s new jobs plan will be political supporters – teachers, government employees, and unionized construction workers. That’s how the political game is played.
Where will the funding come from? Clever politician that he is, Mr. Obama pushed that responsibility over to the Congressional committee of 12 who have to come up with $1.5 trillion in deficit cuts by Thanksgiving, as if another $450 billion shouldn’t be a difficult squeeze.
Meanwhile, Mr. Presidential candidate for re-election took his jobs-plan show on the road, beginning in the congressional districts of Republican House leaders Eric Cantor of Virginia and John Boehner of Ohio. In the hoopla part of the show, Mr. Obama is promising a more ambitious deficit plan in the next few weeks, meaning later.
Good news which the president and Congress haven’t grasped or announced yet is that there will be no double dip. The Great Recession which began in December 2007 and was erroneously declared ended in June 2009 is alive and will continue to feed on debt and deficits until after the 2012 election - or more likely longer.