Zuckerman: Real Unemployment 20 Percent

Sunday, 16 Oct 2011 10:17 PM

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Real-estate mogul and New York Daily News owner Mortimer Zuckerman, a longtime supporter of the Democratic Party, says President Obama doesn’t seem to care for people – and the result is an economy that is on the brink of a “potentially catastrophic" collapse.

In fact, the nation may well be down that road with an unemployment rate Zuckerman estimates could be 20 percent.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Zuckerman details his near total alienation from Obama, adding that it is also sweeping his political party.

Among business executives who support Obama in 2008, Zuckerman says, "there is enormously widespread anxiety over the political leadership of the country." Zuckerman reports that among Democrats, "The sense is that the policies of this government have failed. . . . What they say about [Obama] when he's not in the room, so to speak, is astonishing."

Zuckerman says his alienation with the administration began shortly after inauguration day in 2009.

He supported Obama's call for heavy spending on infrastructure “but if you look at the make-up of the stimulus program," says Zuckerman, "roughly half of it went to state and local municipalities, which is in effect to the municipal unions which are at the core of the Democratic Party."

He adds that "the Republicans understood this" and it diminished the chances for bipartisan legislating.

His take on health-care reform is equally bleak: "Eighty percent of the country wanted them to get costs under control, not to extend the coverage. They used all their political capital to extend the coverage. I always had the feeling the country looked at that bill and said, 'Well, he may be doing it because he wants to be a transformational president, but I want to get my costs down!'"

He also argues that the “Occupy Wall Street” protesters are people with a legitimate grievance, as the country suffers high unemployment and stagnant middle-class incomes. In essence, they are core Democrats that Obama should have won over by now.

The reason for their anger and alienation with Obama is simple: they don’t have jobs, or are so underemployed their income in meaningless. The real unemployment rate is actually well above the official level of 9.1 percent, which only measures people who have applied for a job within the previous four weeks, Zuckerman says.

He believes unemployment has even surged beyond the Department of Labor's "U-6" number of 16.5 percent that has received increasing attention lately because it includes people who have given up looking for work within the past year, plus people who have been cut back from full-time employees to part-timers.


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