Friday’s news from the Labor Department was bad enough: an unemployment rate stuck at 8.2 percent, a comprehensive measure of underemployment creeping toward 15 percent, and only 80,000 new jobs. Disappointing is an understatement.
But the overall numbers hide an even more depressed economic landscape in the Hispanic communities. The overall Hispanic unemployment rate is stuck at 11 percent, and the high rates of our youth unemployment – a staggering 31 percent for 16 to 19 year-olds – are visibly felt in Hispanic communities across the nation.
It’s even more troubling that this is not “news” and that we have entered into what some of our leaders like President Obama treat as a new normal in the community. A year ago the adult male unemployment rate was near 10 percent, adult females over 11 percent and Hispanic youth over 35 percent. The sad reality is that Hispanics unemployment has barely moved.
The numbers tell the truth: President Obama’s economic policies have failed Hispanics. Does that mean Hispanics should call for a special 2012 Latino hiring tax credit? Of course not –all Americans should be helped and need jobs.
Sadly the president’s massive stimulus was stacked with special benefits for well-connected constituencies, not ordinary workers and families. And the years since have produced an array of “targeted, temporary” gimmicks that discriminated among Americans and failed to spur growth, create jobs, and put bigger paychecks in the hands of hard working families.
Hispanics yearn for the same ideals that have united Americans for years: economic freedom, upward mobility, and the opportunity to achieve the American Dream. Economic freedom is not found in a government takeover of health care that taxes the uninsured, dictates families’ healthcare from the bowels of a huge bureaucracy, and robs Medicare of 500 billion desperately-needed dollars. Upward mobility is impossible in this economy that is struggling to grow, handcuffed by over regulation, and the threat of higher taxes at every turn. Growing a small, family business – the traditional route to controlling one’s destiny – is burdened by a mountain of federal debt.
Friday’s jobs report was just one more reminder of these time-truths.
Hispanics, like all Americans, want real reforms that preserve the social safety net for the next generations. They want tax reform that preserves low rates for the small business community, supports more rapid economic growth, and allows their families the opportunities to buy a home, pursue higher education and leave something for the next generation. They want an education system that works; one in which parents’ have real choice and control the nurturing of their children’s dreams. And they want a future not burdened with federal debt that exceeds the size of the economy and crushes the hopes of the next generation.
In short, Hispanics want what every American wants, because they are Americans: a government that knows its place and does not intrude into the lives and businesses of its citizens. It is time for real change for real reforms that provide real opportunity and jobs.
By Doug Holtz-Eakin and Jennifer Korn.
Doug Holtz-Eakin is the President of American Action Forum and former Director of the Congressional Budget Office.
Jennifer S. Korn is the Executive Director of the Hispanic Leadership Network and former Director of Hispanic and Women Affairs in the President George W. Bush White House.