I checked the list once, I check the list twice and I couldn’t find anything remotely like Salahi or Miller on the guest list for the jobs summit the White House is hosting this afternoon. We weren’t even on the virtual guest list.
I hear Desiree Rogers has launched an investigation into the snafu — which included an invitation to yours truly to host a virtual jobs summit but absolutely no follow-up once I had accepted. What is going on at the White House? Next thing you know Michelle will be wearing the same thing twice and there goes the retail industry.
The other missing guests at the jobs summit, according to DeLong: Federal Reserve officials and Blue Dog Democrats. Now I can understand how Obama might not want to invite these masters of social repartee to his party, but if he wants to get anything serious done about the stubbornly high unemployment then, then the President will need to deal with the wonks who have the power to do more than re-arrange name cards on the economic ship.
DeLong argues in a column in The Week that the jobs summit needs to deal with the fundamentally contradictory programs that Congress and the Fed are pursuing to create — or not create — jobs.
DeLong’s explanation is pretty wonkish. So let me put it in plain English: The Fed says the economy has so much $$$ (liquidity) from everything it has done, more $$$ won’t do anything more for spending and job creation. By contrast, Congress says that more $$$ will crowd out business investment. Only one of these explanations can be correct. Here’s the hottie in his own words:
…Either the economy is so awash in liquidity that the Federal Reserve cannot do much to boost spending—in which case additional spending by the government won’t generate any substantial rise in interest rates. Or additional government spending will crowd out investment as businesses scramble for liquidity and interest rates rise—in which case the economy is not awash in liquidity, and quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve could do a lot right now to boost spending and employment.
It appears that what we have here is a failure to communicate.
In truth, that is nothing new on this front. It was clear, for example, by Feb. 17 of this year, the day Obama signed the stimulus package, that the economy was in much worse shape than earlier projections had supposed. The administration’s policies were targeted at an economy in which the current—December 2009—unemployment rate was projected at 7.8 percent, with a decline to 6.9 percent projected by December 2010.
But we do not live in that world. We live in a world in which the unemployment rate this month is likely, in the final data, to come in at 10.4 percent, and in which the unemployment rate in December 2010 may well exceed 9.6 percent. All of this was known, or suspected, on Feb. 17. But the High Politicians and High Spinmasters of the Obama administration chose not to communicate that grim news. The problem is not that the administration’s policies have not performed as expected; they have, more or less. The trouble is they were devised to treat a bad crisis. And we were living through an even worse one.
Thus we need a jobs summit right now. We need the White House’s National Economic Council and key congressional “centrists” on one side and the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee on the other to meet. Those two groups seem to have very inconsistent views of the economic situation. They seem to be working at cross-purposes. Something has to give. If they could reach agreement on whose view of the economy is likely correct, then a rescue plan—entailing either more government spending or greater liquidity—would become obvious.
Until that “jobs summit” is convened, others are moot.
Tomorrow, we get the unemployment report for November. If the numbers are weak enough, we may get the summit DeLong says we need. If that happens, then I’d really like an invitation.