The first story is the looming Obamacare debacle. Hey, wasn't Obamacare supposed to solve the problem of the uninsured? Well, not so much:
Every month, a hundred or so people crowd the lobby of the Arlington Free Clinic, clutching blue tickets to enter a health-care lottery. Uninsured and ailing, they hope to be among the two dozen who hit the jackpot and are given free care.
Some might think the lottery’s days are numbered, given that the insurance expansion under President Obama’s health-care law is taking effect in January. But clinic officials say the lottery will stay because demand for their services is likely to be as high as ever. “We will be business as usual,” said Nancy Sanger Pallesen, the clinic’s executive director.
The Affordable Care Act, the most sweeping health care program created in a half century, is expected to extend coverage to 25 million Americans over the next decade, according to the most recent government estimates. But that will still leave a projected 31 million people without insurance by 2023.
Hmmmm, I'll bet if Obamacare had been sold as a huge new government program that will disrupt the health care sector, cripple small business and the economy at large, create massive uncertainty for business going forward, assault religious institutions and all of that at the service of giving health insurance to only about a third of the then-current uninsured, do you think it would have passed?
Oh, and on the crippling the economy front, the second story that Syria seems to have pushed off the front page is the continuing stagnant American economy under Obamanomics. The latest jobs report last Friday captured the suck:
Yes, the unemployment rate fell a notch to 7.3 percent, from 7.4 percent in July. Yes, the nation added 169,000 jobs, broadly consistent with the pattern of recent months.
But in almost all the particulars, you can find signs that this job market is weaker than it appeared just a few months ago, and maybe getting worse. The drop in the unemployment rate was caused by 312,000 people dropping out of the labor force. The number of people actually reporting having a job actually fell by 115,000 in the survey on which the unemployment rate is based.
And while the overall August jobs number was okay, the Labor Department revised down its estimates of June and July job creation by a combined 74,000 positions. In other words, through the summer, hiring has been quite a bit shakier than it had appeared.
Jobs numbers ebb and jobs numbers flow, and as always, it would be unwise to make too much of one report. But this one has enough signs of weakness embedded in enough places that it has to make economy-watchers — including those at the Federal Reserve who meet in less than two weeks — reassess their confidence that a solid, steady jobs recovery is underway.
Consider this: The nation has averaged 148,000 new jobs a month for the last three months. The number was 160,000 for the last six months, and 184,000 a month over the last year. That looks to me like a downward trend, no two ways about it. It’s certainly not the gradual acceleration that most mainstream economists have forecast as 2013 advances and the impact of tighter fiscal policy fades.
Want another sign? The proportion of the U.S. population that had a job in August was 58.6 percent. Six months earlier, the number was a whopping — wait for it — 58.6 percent. The year is nearly three-quarters over, and the economy isn’t growing fast enough to put a higher proportion of its citizens back to work.
I've been saying for years that the number to look at is the employment to population ratio, not the unemployment rate. What that number shows is that we entered a recession in 2007 and we've never really recovered from it.
Now, why are those two stories the same story really? Because, in my view, the uncertainty that the implementation of Obamacare has injected into the economy is what has caused this drag on job creation. We said it would happen. It happened. Q.E.D. Obama ought, by rights, to be toast for having not only presided over this debacle but, by pushing through Obamacare, being the primary cause of it.
So the Syria story couldn't come at a better time, could it?