How Not to Address the Jobs Crisis

With the Labor Day weekend bringing nothing but bad news on the job crisis, GOP candidates are rolling out their best material: and it doesn’t look good.

Today, Mitt Romney issued a 59-point plan on what he’d do to end the jobs crisis. That’s right: 59 points. Because nothing says “strong, clear vision” like using a prime number to bullet your economic platform. Let alone composing the platform of measures like tax cuts, budget cuts, deregulation, and rolling back union and environmental protections—none of which in themselves actually create jobs.

Also today, Jon Huntsman released a cheeky new video heralding his own job creation record by featuring recycled footage of a Huntsman body-double riding motocross through the Utah red rock wilderness. The video also compares Huntman’s record on job creation in Utah (lots of flashing “#1”s on the video) to Romney’s in Massachusetts (#47). Because nothing says “I feel your pain” to the nation’s long-term unemployed like seeing a rich white dude who says he’s “#1” tear it up on vacation.

Neither Romney’s egghead approach and nor the Jerry-Bruckheimer-on-Muzak tactics of his Utah cousin connect with how the jobs crisis feels to most Americans.

As we’ve said here and here at RD, the jobs crisis is taking on the dimensions of a spiritual crisis. More than 16% of Americans (including the long-term unemployed) are jobless, with the jobs crisis hitting aging boomers and young workers especially hard. And all reports suggest that we won’t see a substantial correction for years. In their guts, most Americans know that we’re witnessing something serious, something permanent—something that strikes at the heart of how we’ve conceptualized America and set expectations for our own lives and those of our children. This doesn’t feel temporary. Long-term joblessness makes people feel ashamed and afraid and powerless. Even people who do have jobs are working harder, with less to show for it, and even less to promise their kids.

What can a leader say to a people grappling with the beginnings of a national spiritual crisis? I’m thinking 59 points and a motorbike aren’t going to do it.