Washington policy wonks may enjoy obsessing about the debt and political intrigue, but with 25 million Americans unemployed or underemployed, it's the jobs, stupid, writes Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times. Polls show people's biggest worry is work, by a two-to-one margin over federal spending. "I can’t help feeling that national politicians and national journalists alike have dropped the ball on jobs," writes Kristof, from his family's farm in Oregon.
Looking around him, Kristof sees neighbor after neighbor suffering the effects of pink slips or underemployment. "Unless more people are working, paying taxes, and making mortgage payments, it’s difficult to see how we revive the economy or address our long-term debt challenge," he writes. Kristof suggests the federal government step up and pay for more teachers and programs like AmeriCorps, as well as extend the payroll tax cut, which is scheduled to expire in December (and which, he wryly notes, normally anti-tax Republicans bizarrely seem to oppose). "Mr. Obama," Kristof implores, "with 25 million Americans hurting, will you fight—really fight!—to put jobs at the top of the national agenda?"