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In July of 2010 an unemployed NJ resident named Jim Chukalas posed for a White House photo op with a beaming President Barack Obama. At issue, extended unemployment benefits, and a promise to improve the economy so guys like Jim could land a new job.
New Jersey resident Jim Chukalas had already been out of work for 20 months in July 2010 when he was among a handful of people invited to the White House to stand behind President Obama as he urged Congress to extend unemployment benefits. Now more than 2½ years later, Chukalas remains one of the more than 440,000 people who make up New Jersey's 9.6 percent unemployment rate.
"Some days I want to pull my hair out," the 45-year-old from Sussex County said.
Obama spent part of his State of the Union speech on Tuesday outlining a series of steps to boost the economy, partly by preventing automatic spending cuts that would eliminate jobs when they kick in next month, and partly by enacting new proposals and older ideas that failed to win support in Congress before.
Hope and same!
But it is not clear how the steps Obama outlined, which include raising the minimum wage, creating innovation centers for manufacturing and a second stimulus program to repair unsafe bridges, would translate into opportunity for Chukalas, a former parts manager at an auto dealership.
Jim's been out of work for four years. The entirety of Dear Leader's first term. His extended unemployment benefits are long since exhausted. And his White House photo isn't worth the paper it's printed on. He's a statistic. Forgotten by the man who once promised him a brighter future.
There are millions of Jims across America. Waiting. Hoping. And Dear Leader is so gosh-darned concerned about their fate that he's pivoting himself into yet another vacation to rest up after his grueling State of the Union speech.
Maybe Jim Chukalas should apply for a job as his caddy.
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