|We accepted the opportunity to join other media representatives in a telecommunication call with Sen. Roy Blunt this morning (Jan. 26, 2011) from Washington, D.C. The advance on it was that he was going to discuss President Obama's State of the Union address as well as priorities facing the 112th Congress.
The topic of Obama's address, however, was dropped in a subsequent notification. Instead we received a separate press release that said, "This speech should have been about jobs and too much government spending. Instead it was about 'investment,' which is just another word for more government spending." (Huh? See complete text of speech as prepared for Obama here.)
Blunt began the conversation by enumerating what was part of his day: meeting with the Mexican ambassador to discuss the drug cartel problem, with Warren Hatch as a co-sponsor of the balanced budget amendment and with Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) to face members of Politico.
He blew off the President's address by saying he "didn't connect with the moment" or immediate challenges facing the nation, although he did admit to there being "some truth" in what Obama said. What could be heard loud and clear from Blunt was the need for "private sector jobs now," a priority he claims Missourians have voiced often.
Those listeners know that Obama spent a significant portion of his address defining how "technology" has changed the job market and how the employment world has changed. Listeners should recall that Obama reminded everyone that no longer is there the expectation of holding a job for life and having one's kids work for the same company, ie. face reality.
Many out there know that in holding the bottom line or even increasing profitability, companies are cutting paychecks and/or instituting unpaid furloughs. Jobs can't be defined in a time warp; we are way past the Industrial Revolution that created them. Greater productivity no longer seems to involve more workers but the one's left to work their .....off.
Our question to Blunt concerned his statement about the need for "private sector jobs now." We didn't need for him to define what was meant by "private sector jobs," although he threw as "jobs the taxpayer doesn't pay for" at us anyway, but try as we might, we couldn't make sense out of the rest of his response that deregulation of business by government means more profitability. Somehow we couldn't make the leap of faith to it meaning that an environment would be created assuring "more jobs."
In response to a question about eliminating earmarks (Obama, listeners should recall, said that he would veto bills with earmarks inside), Blunt said that eliminating earmarks was "appealing" to him but that figuring out how to do that would be an issue. He also said that if you don't have earmarks then the president has more money to spend. (Equating Obama with the word "spend" seemed significant.)
Regarding trimming the budget, Blunt said that "everything should be on the table for cuts...even defense." "People are truly fearful of the road we're heading down," Blunt said, reminding everyone that we now spend 65% of what we produce in a single year and that down the road that figure could bludgeon to 145% and be greater than what bankrupt Greece is dealing with now. (The U.S. going bankrupt is hard for anyone to fathom.)
The media rep from Springfield asked Blunt for comments about hth companies inc's possible hiring of illegal aliens to work on a federal project. His response was that there should be a "big penalty" if employers are aware of any illegality in hiring practices. (Wasn't there immigration enforcement at one time before illegals were considered a significant part of the work force?)
In additional comments about jobs Blunt said that they would clearly go away if utilities were further regulated. Missouri relies heavily on coal to provide most of the energy in the state. I guess, that's why Obama threw "clean coal" in his discussion of clean energy technology. Chalk that up as an Obama concession before he could be accused of creating problems for Missouri.
Ten representatives of the Missouri media had joined the conversation lasting less than 25 minutes. Only a handful of them asked questions. We think Blunt should be applauded for wanting to establish a pipeline to the media. But the media should have been there to draw smoke.