News / USA

US Economic Woes Debated

Economic advisor Robert Reich, former Labor Secretary (File Photo - November 7, 2008)
Economic advisor Robert Reich, former Labor Secretary (File Photo - November 7, 2008)
Michael Bowman

A recent rise in the U.S. unemployment rate has rekindled debate on America's slow-growth economy and what can be done to spark expansion and create badly-needed jobs.

Historically, U.S. economic recoveries have gained momentum over time.  But a year and a half after emerging from the deepest recession of the post-World War II era, the U.S. economy is expanding, but only barely so. And even that anemic growth could be faltering.

News that the nation’s unemployment rate shot up above nine percent last month intensified economists’ fears that tepid economic performance could persist for years to come.

According to Robert Reich, who served as Labor Secretary during the Clinton administration, America’s lackluster economy is easy to explain.

“The central problem is on the demand side. Seventy percent of the U.S. economy is consumers [consumer activity]. And consumers are hit with the equivalent of a truck," he said. "Housing prices are dropping like mad.  Wages adjusted for inflation are dropping.  Their jobs are disappearing. Under these circumstances, consumers are not spending.  And if they are not spending, then jobs are not going to be created.”

Reich spoke on ABC’s This Week program. He advocated additional federal stimulus to spur economic activity.

Republican Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama sharply disagreed.

“Stimulus basically does not work. We have tried that," said Shelby. "I think what we have got to do is create the conditions [for economic growth]: tax reform, incentives for manufacturing. The market grows the economy. We have grown the government, but we have not grown the economy.”

But former Labor Secretary Reich insisted that, when the private sector is lagging, the government should intervene.

“When consumers and private investors are pulling in [withholding spending], then government has got to fill the gap," said Reich. " We have done this for the last 75 years.”

Under President Barack Obama, an $800-billion federal stimulus package has been approved, income tax cuts have been extended, and the amount of money taken from workers’ paychecks to fund Social Security for retirees has been temporarily reduced. In addition, the U.S. central bank has kept interest rates at historically-low levels and sought ways to pump money into the ailing economy.

Senator Shelby says there is only so much a heavily-indebted federal government can or should do, and that a new stimulus package, if proposed, would not pass Congress.

“What we need to do is create some certainty, some conditions for people to invest, to grow [the economy], to have some confidence," he said. "There is not a lot of confidence in the economy right now.”

President Obama has urged patience, arguing that the economy needs time to heal from a deep recession and the 2008 financial crisis. Republican presidential hopefuls vying to challenge Obama in next year’s election have been quick to proclaim that what is truly needed is new economic leadership.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Head: Breach Won't Happen Again

Julia Pierson tells a House panel investigating a recent intrusion at the White House: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid