Just how deep is the hole we’re in? The U.S. stock market has just lost about $3 trillion in equity. Our anemic economy grew at an annual rate of less than 1 percent in 2011’s first six months. The dollar index - a measure of the dollar’s value against that of its major trading partners - is near its all-time low.
After the U.S. federal government has posted three consecutive years of trillion-dollar-plus deficits, Standard & Poor’s has downgraded long-term American debt and Moody’s has placed it on negative watch.
Almost 15 million Americans are out of work; another 10 million have either given up or are underemployed, and the average period of unemployment stands at nine months, the highest since record-keeping began in 1948. An all-time high of 46 million Americans receive food stamps, and the official poverty rate stands at 15.7 percent, up from 13.2 percent in 2008.
More than 3.7 million homes sit unsold on the market, 850,000 are in some stage of foreclosure, and mortgages on about 6 million residential properties are delinquent but have not as yet entered the foreclosure process. More than half of all American homeowners with mortgages, moreover, say they are underwater - owing more on their mortgages than their properties are worth.
Consumer confidence is near its record low of November 2008. Investor confidence has dropped 24 points in the past three months to its lowest level in two years. Just 16 percent of us believe America is headed in the right direction.
What does our president do about all of this? After blaming others - George W. Bush, Wall Street, the Tea Party, the Japanese tsunami, the “Arab Spring,” bad weather, the rating agencies, his dog - seeing his frivolous budget rejected 97-0 in the Senate his party controls, punting responsibility for developing a debt-reduction plan to Congress and sternly lecturing Congress to “eat your peas,” he has once again pivoted to the vital jobs issue.
As a sign that this time he’s really, really serious, the president’s been flying all over the country on his taxpayer-funded corporate jet (“Fundraiser One”) to raise money at up to $38,500 a plate to preserve the one job he really cares about: his own.