On Christmas Day 2009, Civil Candor posted an article on earmarking after Congress passed an omnibus spending bill laden with thousands of earmarks (see: Merry Christmas, America. Damn, We Must Have Been Good This Year!). One year later, Harry Reid continues to make good on his Founding Fathers remark, as if the survival of our democracy depends on earmarking. Lawmakers continue to hide their heads in the sand, pretending our national debt will diminish if they can find the right combination of spending bills. Unemployment is little changed, despite Vice President Biden’s assurances at the beginning of a December 2009 Jobs and Economic Growth Forum that jobs are the administration’s primary concern:
But notwithstanding that, his [the president’s] laser focus has been — and the economic team can tell you, every morning we have the meeting relating to the principles on the economy, the principals in the economic team coming in, it’s what we call the Presidential Daily Briefing, is jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs. 
Now, on Christmas Day 2010, too many Americans are again stretching their unemployment checks ever thinner as they try to wring some cheer out of the holiday. Their Senators and Representatives spent November and December demonstrating the depth of their concern by engaging in partisan power plays, waiting until the last moment to extend jobless benefits, fighting over a common sense tax rate extension, and indulging themselves with year-end spending on everything from childhood obesity to food safety to libraries.
The longer a problem drags on with no solution, the easier it is to accept that problem as the status quo. This is what will happen to jobs in America. 10% will become our new, agreed-upon unemployment rate.
The president may not have realized it, but he confirmed his own responsibility for the lack of job growth when he followed up Vice President Biden’s remarks at the Jobs Forum:
Many [businesses] have figured out how to squeeze more productivity out of fewer workers, and that cost-cutting has become embedded in their operations and in their culture. That may result in good profits, but it’s not translating into hiring. 
Claiming that businesses were enjoying “good profits” at the end of 2009, or in 2010, is a stretch even for President Obama. His suggestion that companies are profiting by squeezing their employees typifies the anti-business, pro-union mentality that has stifled job growth, convincing employers that they have no choice but to carry on in scale-down mode. Economic policy dominated by spending to support public and quasi-public sector jobs will not stimulate the small businesses that are essential to dragging us out of high post-recession unemployment.
Republicans come to power in the House in January. The GOP has pledged to create jobs, and the unanswered question is whether their assumption that business-friendly tax policy will spur hiring is just as flawed as the president’s beliefs. There is no reason why tax incentives should create jobs when employers have increased efficiency and productivity, and Americans who are working will do whatever they can to stay employed. The benefits of reducing regulation and offering tax incentives may just as likely go to the bottom line to guard against another downturn, or the consequences of misguided legislation like the health care bill. Businesses that have been operating with skeletal staffs since the start of the recession will be loathe to hire when they know the only prudent course is to continue to do more with less.
We have allowed job loss in America to become a catastrophe. The challenge for next year is not how to stimulate job growth from existing businesses, but how to stimulate the growth of new businesses, growing our economy by utilizing the talent wasted by millions of Americans spending their time looking for jobs that will never exist. If we continue to rely on the same failed recovery policies, and assume that the jobs will come, Christmas 2011 will find us exactly where we were at Christmas 2009, and today.
1..The White House. Office of the Press Secretary. Remarks by the President and Vice President at the Opening Session of the Jobs and Economic Growth Forum. December 3, 2009. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-and-vice-president-opening-session-jobs-and-economic-growth-forum, retrieved December 24, 2010.