exactly bode well for economic recovery. Nor does a weakened bond rating. Nor higher interest rates, which appear to be a possibility. Furthermore, economic growth in the last quarter was extremely sluggish, at just 1.3 percent. Consumer spending was up by only a tenth of a percentage point.
The unemployment situation is the most disturbing. Nearly a third of those who are out of work have been out of work for a full year. The average length of unemployment is now 40 weeks, or 10 months! The French philosopher Albert Camus once wrote, “Without work all life is rotten.” There are at least 25 million Americans leading “rotten” lives because they have no work. Many, also, have no hope. Yet the possibility of using stimulus to generate employment is not possible with the possibility of debt ceiling legislation that offers no flexibility for an employment downturn. Pass that sugar-coated Satan sandwich, and let me wash it down with a big dose of that strychnine. That’s right, strychnine. Poison. Because this deal is poison for the economy and for most of the American people.
The possibilities of a double dip (or continuing) recession increase because there is little credit access. The banks took their bailout money and ran. Small businesses and potential homeowners often can’t get a loan even with pristine credit. The bailout money was meant for economic stimulus, but the banks played a bad game of three-card Monte with the American people.
While our economy languishes, few in Congress have the moxie to stand up to the banks. Indeed, too many are in cahoots with them. How else can we possibly explain the sidelining of Elizabeth Warren to lead the new regulatory agency?
The debt-ceiling proposal is bad news. It is not even clear that it is “better than nothing.” What it actually shows is that Tea Party Republicans are better at adhering to their principles and exerting their will than Democrats or the White House are. They deserve no credit for their unwillingness to compromise, because the legislative process is about compromise. But President Obama and some Democrats need to take heed of Tea Party tactics. Or drink that strychnine with the sugar-coated Satan sandwich.
Julianne Malveaux is president of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C.