The Other 9-9-9 Plan We Need to Talk About

The Other 9-9-9 Plan We Need to Talk About


During Herman Cain’s recent controversy, his response to 9-9-9 scrutiny and Rick Perry’s 9 minutes of brain freeze hell, people have forgotten that the Obama economy is producing its own 9-9-9 record for America

It’s not pretty. 

About a month ago, candidates and conservative voters alike began focusing on a 9-9-9 plan that rocketed Herman Cain to the top of the GOP presidential primary polls. Maybe it was because he was the only non-politician in the race or maybe because he comes off as the anti-Mitt Romney favorite-for-the-moment.

After squishy double talk from the Cain camp on the sexual harassment allegations, both GOP primary voters (perhaps not as much as some might think) and Americans in general are now fixated on the author of 9-9-9 and his potential presidential mettle.

Naturally, the sexual harassment allegations took a backseat (even if for a brief moment) as the nation switched its attention to the horrific and potentially campaign-ending brain freeze suffered by Texas Gov. Rick Perry during the GOP presidential debate in Michigan last week. Fortunately for the incumbent president sorting through his own array of mixed signals during his re-election campaign, the focus has turned towards the Republican candidates’ own issues with shifting poll numbers. This leaves the Obama administration’s re-election effort to migrate its own controversies in the quiet background for now.

While the nation focuses on Cain’s string of contradictions and Republican candidates’ drama playing out, Americans have overlooked the string of nines from the Obama Administration on job creation. A recent Labor Department report showed another month of 9% official unemployment with little fanfare as the Cain Train threatened derailment. Slight reductions in the unemployment rate for African Americans (down to a still-tragic 15.1% officially) for the second straight month may indicate Black workers dropping out of job search contention – purely out of frustration. The maintained official unemployment rates for Whites, Hispanics, and others seem to support that theory.

All that speaks poorly for a president who chased obsessively after healthcare reform upon securing a supermajority in Congress.  He should have focused on jobs and economic crises, instead. Even before passage of Obamacare, it was theorized that the resulting supermajority may not yield the necessary results that Americans wanted, or at least the main one Americans still need. President Obama may be campaigning for his jobs bill and against the unpopular “Republican” Congress now. That has helped his approval rating for the moment.

That said, though, it still pales to the challenge of winning next year’s election with a record of “9-9-9” that would make Herman Cain envious.

Despite historic levels of spending that would make the Bush Administration blush, the Obama Administration is hampered with a stubborn unemployment trend that has refused to stay at the apocalyptic-warning level of 8% prescribed during the 2009 stimulus debate.  It’s a prediction now hounded as unwise in hindsight. In fact, aside from the brief glimmer of hope for continued unemployment rate reduction immediately following President Obama’s signature of the Bush tax rates extension, the White House has overseen a year’s worth of 9% unemployment. That includes a string of monthly unemployment rates of 9.0%, 9.1%, 9.2%, 9.1%, 9.1%, 9.1%, and 9.0% from April onward.

That takes the moniker “9-9-9” to a new low.

Both supporters and opponents have criticized the president’s lack of focus on jobs with a crescendo of disappointment building in the streets just in time for 2012.

Even under the best of circumstances for the November election next year, experts say unemployment probably will not fall under 8% until 2013.  This means the Candidate-in-Chief – and the rest of us – may continue to stare at more nines stringing together for some time to come.

That’s bad for the president, worse for the nation, and pandemic for those struggling the most among us, including those within Black America.

“9-9-9” may not prove to be good for America, but “9-9-9-9-9-9-9” has proven even worse. Herman Cain’s proposed tax plan is not the set of nines that the American people should be worried most about. Mr. Cain’s lack of discipline in addressing the worried and unemployed in America may be troublesome. President Obama’s lack of discipline in addressing America’s primary issues over this term (the economic issues that led to this 2008 election victory, mind you) should stick much longer in voters’ minds.  When comparing one’s proposal with the other’s record of results, the latter has yielded nothing but a sad set of nines.

Lenny McAllister is a political commentator found Saturdays with host TJ Holmes and fellow pundit Maria Cardona on “CNN Saturday Morning” at 10:30 AM Eastern (9:30 Central / 7:30 AM Pacific.) His “Saturday Remix” can be found at 12 noon Eastern exclusively on Politic365 before CNN Saturday Morning.

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Lenny McAllister
Lenny McAllister is the host of the radio show “Get Right with Lenny McAllister” found on and often re-broadcast on Politic365. He appears weekly on “CNN Saturday Morning” with host Randi Kaye and former DNC Communications Director Maria Cardona at 10:30 AM Eastern Time. He also regularly appears weekdays on CNN's "Early Start" at 5am - 7am and "CNN Newsroom" at 12:30pm Eastern. He also appears as a political commentator on multiple outlets including Sirius-XM Radio, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, ABC Radio in Australia, and Chicago Public Radio. Lenny has written previously for a number of publications including Rushmore Drive, Global Grind, and The Chicago Defender. In 2009, McAllister was a panelist at the 10th Annual State of the Black Union and the CNN panel discussion Young & Black In America: Empowering the Next Generation of African American Leaders. In 2010, Lenny was featured in the Studio 360 series “American Icons” in the episode, The Autobiography of Malcolm X. He was also featured in the November 2010 Essence Magazine roundtable discussion “Race (Still) Matters” that featured the Rev. Al Sharpton, NAACP President Ben Jealous, and CNN’s Soledad O’Brien.