By Joe Guzzardi
September 7, 2012
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney missed a golden opportunity to steal President Obama’s thunder when he didn’t give an unemployed American a voice at the GOP convention. Finding one wouldn’t have been hard.
Romney could have chosen from more than 20 million unemployed or underemployed Americans who are young and old, black and white as well as Hispanic-Americans and native-born.
A jobless American chronicling his long and futile struggle to find full time employment might persuade more of the nation’s undecided voters than one of President Obama’s featured speakers, illegal alien DREAMer Benita Veliz.
Presented as a sympathetic figure, Veliz is just the opposite. Despite her alien status, Veliz has in the more than 20 years she’s lived in the United States, benefited enormously thanks to American taxpayers’ support. Veliz graduated from a San Antonio public high school and then received a full scholarship to St. Mary’s University. Despite her claims that she and her peers have lived fearful lives “in the shadows,” Veliz couldn’t be more out in the open than when she addressed a national television audience with half of Congress looking on.
Even though Obama circumvented the Constitution and Congress when he created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that will give work authorization to 1.8 million previously unemployable aliens (Veliz being one), most of the illegal immigrants who traveled to North Carolina are unhappy. Some protest that DACA might not mean driver’s licenses or that they may be excluded from the Universal Health Care Act. Others are angry because they don’t qualify for DACA.
Obama’s continued outreach to impossible-to-please voters, this time with Veliz as his advocate, is a curious strategy. Since the president has the ethnic minority and liberal blocs locked up, a shift toward the center where the truly crucial moderate and independent votes are found is a more logical course.
Consider the youth vote, a key bloc that in 2008 helped elect Obama with 66 percent of its vote. For them, the four intervening years have been unkind. Not only are young adults age 25-35 disenchanted with Obama who overpromised on jobs but many are struggling to find work or remain employed. Adding 1.8 million new job seekers through DACA adversely impacts their futures.
The hour is late for the Obama camp to shift its philosophy. From this moment until November, Obama will have to defend his record. Nowhere is Obama more vulnerable than on jobs or, better said, the lack thereof. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ August report, the economy added only 96,000 jobs despite Wall Street hopes that the figure would be a more robust 130,000. As if that statistic isn’t grim enough, the BLS noted that 141,000 fewer jobs were created in July and June than originally announced. The economy has added just 139,000 jobs a month since January, below 2011’s average of 153,000. Because so many Americans gave up their job search, the August unemployment rate dipped from 8.3 to 8.1 percent.
Given the economic conditions on the ground—that job creation isn’t keeping up with population growth and that it’s only fractionally ahead of new work permits issued to legal immigrants, nearly 1 million a year, for Obama to stake so much political capital on DREAMers is an all or nothing gamble that might come up snake eyes.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been nationally syndicated since 1986. Contact him at [email protected]