Time to challenge GOP line that businesses can't hire because of uncertainty?

But Time magazine columnist Zachary Karabell begs to differ.  In his column in the current issue of Time, Karabell writes:

Large businesses aren't hiring for basic reasons.  They are highly profitable even with fewer workers.  They have spent billions on technologies that have made them more efficient and productive.  And they are adding jobs abroad-where the growth is.  They are certain that they can service a still highly affluent American market with fewer workers.  In fact, the companies of the S&P 500- the epitome of corporate America- are poised to report very strong earnings for the third quarter, continuing a two-year run in which they've reaped hundreds of billions in profit even as employment rolls have shrunk.

Small businesses aren't hiring mostly because economic activity is muted, consumers are paying off debts while saving more and spending somewhat less, and loans for expansion are difficult to obtain.

And uncertainty isn't the reason the housing market is a mess.  Many of the jobs lost in the past two years were in construction, housing and financial firms connected to real estate.  They aren't coming back until housing demand perks up.  That won't be anytime soon.

Karabell concludes that even if Congress and the White House were to make "crystal clear" all economic policy for the next five years, businesses would not suddenly start hiring, since they wouldn't have any incentive to.

Sounds pretty realistic, doesn't it?  Yes, I know what Jack Welch and the Chamber of Commerce and other officials say, but it's nice to see some of the Washington press corps push back on some of these assumptions.

The economy is in serious trouble, which is the number one reason why Barack Obama and the Democrats are expected to take a serious hit in three weeks time.  It's the way it works in our country.  But can you really say that if John McCain or Hillary Clinton were in charge, that thee "fundamentals of the economy," as McCain infamously said back in 2008, would be any different for them, and for us?

has an extensive story out this morning about how our current "recovery" still looks, feels and smells like a recession.  It rattles off some familiar but extremely relative data points about what's happening right now in the country, such as:

At the current rate of job creation, the nation would need nine more years to recapture the jobs lost during the recession. And that doesn’t even account for five million or six million jobs needed in that time to keep pace with an expanding population. Even top Obama officials concede the unemployment rate could climb higher still.

¶Median house prices have dropped 20 percent since 2005. Given an inflation rate of about 2 percent — a common forecast — it would take 13 years for housing prices to climb back to their peak, according to Allen L. Sinai, chief global economist at the consulting firm Decision Economics.

¶Commercial vacancies are soaring, and it could take a decade to absorb the excess in many of the largest cities. The vacancy rate, as of the end of June, stands at 21.4 percent in Phoenix, 19.7 percent in Las Vegas, 18.3 in Dallas/Fort Worth and 17.3 percent in Atlanta, in each case higher than last year, according to the data firm CoStar Group.

Pretty bleak indeed.

Yet throughout the country, and here in Tampa Bay, we keep on hearing from Republicans trying to throw Democrats out of office that it's because of "uncertainty"in Washington that is precluding businesses from hiring, because they're not certain what will come down next from the Obama administration and/or Congress.

Specifically this is said regarding whether or not the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy that were passed in 2001 and 2003 will be extended, as well as ramifications from the admittedly extremely complex health care bill.  Mike Prendergast, the Republican challenging Kathy Castor in District 11, has been saying this often on the campaign trail.


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