Killing jobs, Obama-style

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion used the jobs sum­mit two weeks ago to pro­mote poli­cies the pres­i­dent ad­mits will kill jobs. In case no one in the White House has no­ticed, un­em­ploy­ment has be­come a bit of a press­ing is­sue. Ac­cord­ing to the Bureau of La­bor Statis­tics, the num­ber of jobs lost in 2009 far sur­passes the num­ber in any other year since World War II. More than 3 mil­lion jobs have evap­o­rated into the ozone layer since Pres­i­dent Obama took of­fice.

Ev­ery­thing the ad­min­is­tra­tion is do­ing threat­ens to dig that hole deeper. Mr. Obama has never hid­den his an­tibusi­ness agenda. When run­ning for pres­i­dent last year, he told a group of jour­nal­ists at the San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle: “We would put a cap-and- trade sys­tem in place that is ag­gres­sive if not more ag­gres­sive than any­body else’s that is out there. I was the first to call for a 100 per­cent auc­tion on the cap-and-trade sys­tem. [. . .] So if some­body wants to build a power plant, they can; it’s just that it will bank­rupt them be­cause they’re go­ing to be charged a huge sum for all the green­house gas that is be­ing emit­ted.”

At the jobs sum­mit, the pres­i­dent promised to keep work­ing on that plan to bank­rupt the coal in­dus­try. He joined a clean-en­ergy break­out ses­sion and em­pha­sized that the ca­pand-trade bill still needs to pass the Se­nate. In case you’re cu­ri­ous where this ad­min­is­tra­tion draws the line be­tween style and sub­stance on pur­ported global warm­ing, Mr. Obama made it clear: “The most im­por­tant thing we talked about here is packaging and mar­ket­ing.” He then went on to re­peat the ca­nard that the cap-and­trade bill was “not a jobs killer but a jobs grower.” Packaging and mar­ket­ing, in­deed.

As the re­cent scan­dal about fudged global-warm­ing data has proved, it can be tricky try­ing to mar­ket baloney be­cause facts have a way of bub­bling to the sur­face. For ex­am­ple, Mr. Obama warned that “as you know the unit costs on a lot of th­ese re­new­able en­er­gies, if you’re not fac­tor­ing car­bon in, you are not go­ing to be able to catch up to coal. You just can’t. Coal is go­ing to be sub­stan­tially cheaper for the du­ra­tion un­less peo­ple take into ac­count the ex­ter­nal­i­ties the in­dus­try pro­duces.”

Trans­la­tion of that wonkery is fairly sim­ple. The price of coal needs to be jacked up so gov­ern­ment-fa­vored but wildly in­ef­fi­cient en­ergy sources can com­pete. When the price of coal goes through the roof, the num­ber of jobs re­lated to coal will go through the floor. Ev­ery busi­ness in Amer­ica will have to pay higher en­ergy costs, mak­ing it harder for all em­ploy­ers — from the cor­ner dry clean­ers to au­tomak­ers to in­ter­na­tional con­sul­tants — to hire new work­ers and re­tain cur­rent staff.

There’s no way Mr. Obama’s promised boom in green jobs can com­pen­sate for the un­em­ploy­ment that will re­sult in tra­di­tional in­dus­tries if his dra­co­nian en­ergy pol­icy be­comes the law of the land. Con­trary to some claims, Mr. Obama does have a jobs plan. The prob­lem is it kills jobs rather than cre­ates them.

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