The nation is experiencing the most severe economic crisis since the Great Depression. Princeton economist and former Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve, Alan Blinder, calls the current crisis a "national jobs emergency."
The official unemployment rate in September was 9.1 percent - nearly twice the rate a decade ago - leaving 14 million people out of work.
It's not just the financial meltdown of 2008 and the Great Recession. The American economy has been underperforming for years. Business Week calls 1999-2009 "The Lost Decade for Jobs" as private-sector employment grew by a paltry net 1.1 percent - the lowest increase for any ten-year period since the 1930s.
The original version of President Obama's increasingly embattled jobs plan aimed to provide a much-needed extension of unemployment benefits and a payroll tax cut for working Americans, but outlined only scarce measures to dent the catastrophic rate of unemployment. What we need today is a massive jobs program like the Works Progress Administration (WPA) launched by President Franklin Roosevelt. The WPA put millions of people back to work in the midst of the Great Depression, restoring their dignity, putting money in their pockets and quite literally saving lives.