Beyond the Obama-Hoffa kerfuffle
posted at 4:00 am on September 8, 2011 by Karl
We all had fun skewering the progressive hypocrisy over Teamster honcho Jimmy Hoffa, Jr.’s thuggish speech, but we should keep in mind the bigger picture behind Pres. Obama’s Labor Day appearance in Detroit.
In the 2012 election and beyond, GOP insiders want to win the Great Lakes/Rust Belt region. Obama has already made it clear he will use the auto industry bailout, begun under Pres. George W. Bush, as one of the central pillars of his reelection campaign, especially in these critical battleground states.
The Dems are going to tout a Center for Automotive Research study claiming the bailout saved over a million jobs, even though that study should be titled, “The Parable of the Broken Car Windows.” Commandeering the bankruptcy process for the benefit of the UAW was not the only hope for GM and Chrysler and the long-term costs of the bailouts will be enormous. Indeed, as bailouts go, the auto bailout was less successful than the bank bailout (which tells you how much this is about politics).
Ford, which did not get a bailout, is easily outperforming GM and Chrysler. Although the Obama administration wanted to turn these companies into flagships of its green jobs initiative, sales of the electric Chevy Volt are almost comically dismal; GM and Chrysler are making their money selling SUVs and pickup trucks. Indeed, while Obama blames our lackluster economy in part on the Japanese tsunami, the fact is that disaster helped US automakers.
As for Detroit itself, the official unemployment rate was 14.1 percent in July; the true unemployment figure in the city might be as high as an astounding 50 percent. The Big 3 automakers were the city’s top employers as recently as 2007; as of November 2010, the city’s five top employers were the Detroit Public School system; the City of Detroit; the Detroit Medical Center; the Henry Ford Health System (a non-profit, managed care health care organization); and the US government. It gets worse:
Though unemployment decreased in 2010, the share of people without work for 26 weeks or longer reached 50 percent — a greater proportion than during the recession of 1983. Among jobless adults aged 25-54, 55 percent were out of work at least 26 weeks.
And 26.6 percent of jobs people found last year didn’t pay enough to support a family, causing Michigan to drop from fourth best in the nation in 2006 to 36th place for the number of well-paying jobs.
He parachuted into this city’s sanitized, heavily-securitized downtown square-mile of corporate headquarters and Whole Foods markets – safe from the murderous streets of the city’s other 138 square miles that have claimed 250 lives already this year and put Detroit on path for a staggering 50 per 100,000 residents murder rate in 2011.
Hoffa’s vulgar rhetoric at the event — and the White House non-reaction to it — may expose the Democrats as gross hypocrites, but Obama’s appearance in Detroit raises more serious questions: Why should people vote to re-elect a man who is so plainly the political tool of the Big Labor goons who drove GM and Chrysler off the cliff in the first place? And why should people in the Great Lakes/Rust Belt region vote to empower a lame duck Obama agenda on the environment and energy calculated to kill jobs there?