Obama job plan: Plan on be­ing un­em­ployed

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

Amer­ica is in a steep de­cline be­cause of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s anti-busi­ness poli­cies, which have blocked eco­nomic growth. From the be­gin­ning of his pres­i­dency, Barack Obama’s retroNew Deal poli­cies were all about ex­pand­ing fed­eral spend­ing, pro­grams and taxes at the ex­pense of the pri­vate sec­tor and the la­bor force, both of which have shrunk un­der his re­me­dial man­age­ment.

The re­sult is a shrink­ing la­bor force, stalled eco­nomic growth, deep­en­ing debt and a White House that is out of sub­stan­tive ideas on how to pull our coun­try out of its eco­nomic nose dive.

The Com­merce Depart­ment re­ported two weeks ago that the econ­omy was grow­ing at a fee­ble 1 per­cent in the sec­ond quar­ter and has all but stopped grow­ing. Last week, the Con­fer­ence Board, a re­search group, said its Con­sumer Con­fi­dence In­dex dropped in Au­gust to its low­est level since April 2009, fall­ing 15 points to 44.5.

The U.S. Bureau of La­bor Sta­tis­tics (BLS) re­ports that the per­cent­age of 16-to-24-year-old work­ers with a job de­clined to 48.8 per­cent in July, the low­est rate for that month since the BLS has been col­lect­ing such data.

Mean­time, fore­cast­ers ex­pect the La­bor Depart­ment’s re­port this to show that just 67,000 jobs were cre­ated in Au­gust, sig­nal­ing that un­em­ploy­ment will re­main high through­out Mr. Obama’s pres­i­dency.

Amer­i­cans are jus­ti­fi­ably pes­simistic about the econ­omy, fear­ing that it’s not go­ing to get bet­ter any­time soon and, in­deed, likely will get worse in the months ahead as the White House vainly strug­gles to patch to­gether a new jobs agenda to res­cue a pres­i­dent whose jobap­proval poll num­bers have sunk to new lows.

Mr. Obama says he will soon of­fer the coun­try a new plan to turn the econ­omy around. But The Wash­ing­ton Post re­ported Aug. 30 that “be­hind the scenes Obama and top aides had yet to reach agree­ment on the ma­jor tenets of that plan, and it re­mained un­clear whether the pres­i­dent was look­ing for nar­rower ideas with a re­al­is­tic chance of passing the Repub­li­can-led House or more sweep­ing stim­u­lus pro­pos­als that would ex­cite his lib­eral base and draw con­trasts with the GOP.”

In other words, the pres­i­dent must choose be­tween ac­cept­ing some GOP ideas that will win the sup­port of Repub­li­cans or of­fer­ing a cam­paign-driven plan that will ap­peal to his party’s dis­en­chanted left but stand lit­tle or no chance of passing a di­vided Congress. Ei­ther way, this is a con­fused ad­min­is­tra­tion that not only has lost its way but doesn’t have a com­pass.

Amer­i­can vot­ers in­tu­itively sense this. The Gallup Poll re­ported Tues­day that just 38 per­cent of the vot­ers it sur­veyed said they ap­proved of the job Mr. Obama is do­ing. A 55 per­cent ma­jor­ity dis­ap­prove of his pres­i­dency.

Let’s be very clear who is to blame for this mess. It isn’t for­mer Pres­i­dent George W. Bush. It isn’t ATMs tak­ing away bank­teller jobs, as Mr. Obama sug­gested ear­lier this sum­mer, along with a rash of other ex­cuses. It isn’t Wall Street, where stocks have been pounded over the course of the past three years. It’s Mr. Obama’s poli­cies that have made the econ­omy weaker, smaller and more vul­ner­a­ble to years of de­cline.

“Jobs cre­ation re­mains weak, be­cause tem­po­rary tax cuts, stim­u­lus spend­ing, large fed­eral deficits, price-rais­ing health-care man­dates, and tighter but in­ef­fec­tive busi­ness reg­u­la­tions do not address, and in­deed ex­ac­er­bate, the per­ma­nent struc­tural prob­lems hold- ing back dy­namic growth and jobs cre­ation,” writes Univer­sity of Mary­land busi­ness econ­o­mist Peter Morici.

“Un­til this pol­icy di­rec­tion is al­tered, the econ­omy will con­tinue to grow slowly or slip into re­ces­sion, un­em­ploy­ment will rise, liv­ing stan­dards will fall, and Amer­i­can stand­ing in the global econ­omy will de­cline,” Mr. Morici says.

What we’re see­ing, he adds, is “an Amer­i­can pol­icy of de­cline by de­sign.”

Mr. Obama came into of­fice full of prom­ises, with a bag full of du­bi­ous reme­dies that were based on the lib­eral no­tion that we could just spend and tax our­selves into pros­per­ity. But after nearly three years of prom­ises, Mr. Obama has failed to de­liver and has lost his cred­i­bil­ity. A Pew Re­search Cen­ter poll re­ports that nearly half of all Amer­i­cans sur­veyed do not be­lieve he is a strong leader, while 50 per­cent do not think he can get things done.

That in­abil­ity to move an agenda was driven home this past week when it was re­ported that the three trade ex­port deals ne­go­ti­ated by Mr. Bush that Mr. Obama has been urg­ing Congress to pass were never of­fi­cially sent to Capi­tol Hill. In­stead, Mr. Obama has been on the cam­paign trail, blam­ing the Repub­li­cans for hold­ing up the trade agree­ments, when there is strong GOP sup­port for all three.

Since the self-ev­i­dent fail­ure of his $825 bil­lion jobs stim­u­lus plan, Mr. Obama has been hop­ing that ei­ther the econ­omy would heal it­self or the Fed­eral Re­serve would come to his res­cue.

Fed­eral Re­serve Chair­man Ben S. Ber­nanke put that no­tion to rest two weeks ago at a con­fer­ence of cen­tral bankers and economists at Jack­son Hole, Wyo.

“Most of the eco­nomic poli­cies that sup­port ro­bust eco­nomic growth in the long run are out­side the province of the cen­tral bank,” he said. In other words, that job rests with Congress, where GOP lead­ers have pre­pared a sweep­ing plan to cut tax rates, re­duce job-killing reg­u­la­tions and un­leash an ag­gres­sive trade pol­icy to “sell Amer­i­can goods and ser­vices around the world.”

It’s hard to see their plan passing the Demo­cratic-run Se­nate in this elec­tion cy­cle. But if it doesn’t, that will give Repub­li­cans the chance to ask the vot­ers: Who’s re­ally play­ing pol­i­tics with the econ­omy?

Don­ald Lam­bro is a syn­di­cated colum­nist.

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