Election Issue: “It’s The Economy, Stupid.”

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I was talking to my 23-year old son the other day about his job. He is working a new shift–5:30 am to 5:30 pm at a mail order warehouse company.

So how is it going? I asked since I had not seen him for three days. This shift stinks , he moaned. I am thinking about looking for another job if they do not put me back on my regular schedule. He added, I could go through a temp agency to get another job.

I responded, But what about your healthcare benefits? He replied, I’m not worried about that right now. Anyway, I can get benefits again when I go from a temp to permanent after a few months on the job.

Unfortunately, that is the attitude of most young people who are trying to navigate and survive today’s rollercoaster job market. However, the latest employment data released last Friday makes me think my son should stay put and be thankful to have a full-time job.

The gloomy jobs report is fueling our collective anxiety about the future. The Labor Department says U.S. employers eliminated 63,000 jobs last month, the largest number in five years. These job cuts came after a lost 22,000 jobs in January.

President Bush pulled together a quick press conference to try to ease concerns in the financial markets. After admitting that our economy has slowed”, the President cited the potential benefits of the recently enacted stimulus package. He hopes that we will all go out and spend our $600 tax rebate checks to boost economic activity during the next couple of quarters of 2008.

But we have seen reality of higher food prices, gas prices that may hit four dollars a gallon and rising inflation. To top it off, Ohio court records show that foreclosures in our state hit a record number—83,000 in 2007.

With all of this economic doom and gloom, will any of us really be in a spending mood? Most people I know are planning to save their $600 or use it pay off debt.

I’m no economist–and I do not want to play one on TV but I suspect that the President and Congress will have to come up with more ways to stimulate the economy other than putting $600 in everyone’s pocket.

Governor Strickland proposes his own one-point seven billion dollar bond package to jumpstart Ohio’s economy. His proposed bond package will enable the state to borrow money that he says will generate at least 80,000 jobs.

But, republican leaders in the Legislature are cool to the Governor’s idea. They prefer a pay-as-you go stimulus package that does not involve the state borrowing more money.

If Strickland and the legislature cannot not reach an agreement, the governor is planning a ballot petition to take his idea to the voters in November.

Borrowing a phrase from the 1992 Bill Clinton campaign—it is the economy, stupid. Economic issues will be a major deciding factor for most voters this November. The next president will have to come up with a plan that not only boosts our national economy, but also stimulates global economic confidence in America.

Whether you go out and spend your six hundred dollars this summer on something fun like the President wants, or sock it away, we should all keep an eye out for more cloudy and stormy days ahead for our economy.

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