With the nation’s jobless picture becoming increasingly glum, President Obama called on a cadre of experts Thursday to help him tackle the crisis.
In all, some 130 business leaders, academics and other experts converged on the White House for a summit designed to reverse the disheartening jobs trend. Just as the president is pushing such money-guzzling proposals as health care reform, his 30,000-troop surge in Afghanistan and a $75 billion foreclosure-prevention initiative, November’s unemployment report hit the scene with a deafening thud.
Obama’s $787 billion stimulus plan – fodder for Republicans who like to characterize the president as a spend-happy liberal who is bankrupting America and mortgaging away the future – was designed to create jobs. But the latest figures show that the nation has lost another 114,000 jobs and that unemployment is still in double digits, 10.2 percent, the highest in more than a quarter-century. Even Democratic lawmakers are beginning to show signs of skepticism as they face criticism at home over the fact that nearly 16 million Americans are out of work, a third of whom haven’t had a job for a half-year or more.
"We are going to be bringing together people from all across the country ... to explore how we can jumpstart the hiring that typically lags behind economic growth, but we don't want to wait," Obama said last week.
Among those invited to offer their insights are Mayor Julian Castro of San Antonio, former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, Alan Blinder; Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman; Google CEO Eric Schmidt; Bob Iger of Disney; James McNerney of Boeing; AT&T chief Randall Stephenson; and United Steel Workers President Leo Gerard. In addition, the president called upon a number of small business owners, academics and non-profit leaders.
Among the topics discussed: green jobs, small business employment, infrastructure and exports. Also, breakout groups will look at ways to encourage business competitiveness and to better prepare workers for the economy of the future.