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President Obama’s Jobs Problem

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Any bounce President Obama might have had after his state of the union malarky was due to one reason and one reason alone: He finally talked about jobs. My read on his SOTU could be summed up in a sentence; "We should have focused on jobs instead of healthcare and we're fixing that now." Yet in a move that is helping to define the term "Obamaesque," aside from passing a paltry $15 billion "jobs" bill, less than spittle flying above the bucket that is our $14 trillion dollar economy (the jobs bill represents about .01% of our economy) Obama has instead continued to focus what's left of his political capital on taking control of our health care industry (which represents about 16% of our economy).

In this week's Washington Post, an article by Scott Wilson suggests that after focusing on immigration, the jobs bill, and of course the health care mess, Obama's new focus on regulating the financial sector and trying to pass laws to "correct" the supreme court's Citizen's United ruling (the case that repeals aspects of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance legislation, which resulted in allowing corporations free political speech) will help the Democrats come November. My first thought when reading this was, "Jobs?"

The media, obsessed with parlimentary tactics, naked men in showers, and the President's ADHD approach to governing, has conveniently forgotten the sentiments of Obama's SOTU. I have not. And while bashing rich bankers and further demonizing and oppressing the corporate world ala Chavez is great for stoking classist anger, it certainly won't help create jobs, unless you're talking about government jobs.

No one aside from the true believers are buying Obama's oft repeated claim that the proposed health care legislation (it's not "reform") will help the employment situation. In fact, the spectre of uncertainty hanging over the entire medical industry is likely having the exact opposite effect. After all, who is going to invest/hire in an industry where tomorrow the rules of the game may change? And we're talking about hospitals, insurance companies, medical suppliers, R&D and drug manufacturers and all of the other businesses that depend on them. Outside of the medical industry, all other business large and small see yet another possible tax, yet another reason why they should hold off on hiring, at least until this whole health care business blows over – especially with productivity at an all time high.

Despite the President's own case that he's already focused on jobs by supporting Bush's TARP plan, passing the $787 billion dollar stimulus bill and pushing for (chuckle) "health care reform," all the while citing the supposed 2 million jobs "created or saved" (an untestable metric never before used with a straight face in the history of mankind), the reality is his focus has been sorely lacking on this front. The stimulus may have had some positive elements but it was full of political pork, government and union payoffs, and added to an already intractable debt hurting our credit rating and dollar. Not quite the solution the American people were expecting from a president who was supposedly smarter than Bush and promised to bring change to the swamp of Washington. Most Americans have already lived through a recession or three. They know that it's long past time that the recovery was underway. They are starting to come to the conclusion that Obama talking down certain industries and taking control of others isn't helping matters any.

So rather than try to improve the jobs situation for Americans, the President has progressed partisan and ideological policies, mostly his health care legislation. And to deal with the resulting and inevitable flack that comes along with saying one thing and doing another, the President and his party have resorted to misdirection, scape goating and even more political games. All the while people continue to lose jobs and wealth, and an economy that should be on the comeback merely lurches along like a confused drunk the day after St. Patty's day.

So in addition to spending the last difficult year on anything but jobs, according to the Washington Post, Obama plans to refocus his efforts again on anything but jobs.

Progressives love to ascribe the so called "deregulation" of banks on our current economic mess. Yet this is one of the great mistruths of our time. Sure, hedge funds played a role in exacerbating the crisis, but the fact that no one can deny is our credit crisis occurred directly as a result of the loose lending policies which were encouraged by government and by the very Democrats posting blame on some vague notion of deregulation. Had those loans adjustable or otherwise, been given to worthy borrowers, we wouldn't be in the pickle we are in now. The American banking industry, even before the ineffectual Sarbanes Oxley Act, was and is still heavily regulated. And regardless of what's regulated and what isn't, it's always in the banker's interest to give loans out that will actually get paid back regardless of whether the bank keeps that loan or bundles and sells it as a security later on. How progressives miss this obvious point is beyond comprehension.

More regulation of the banks won't make our economy any more risk averse either, it will just result in the same typical unintended consequences which brought us our current situation (loose lending policy as a result of government wanting to increase home ownership). As Reagan once said, Government isn't the solution to our problem, Government IS the problem. Sure, some number of borrowers were shunted into adjustable rate mortgages because they didn't know better and some mortgage brokers and hedge funds stood to earn more that way. There's a saying for that too — caveat emptor. You can't legislate people to think for themselves, nor should you change the rules of an industry to try. This isn't to say that all regulation is bad, but what part of these new financial regulations will help the economy and Americans get jobs? It certainly won't help people get jobs in the finance industry.

On the Supreme Court ruling, it's easy – if you're against what the Supreme Court did, then you are against free speech. Period. The Supreme Court made a judgment on a case based on the Bill of Rights which clearly states that "Congress shall make no law… Abridging the freedom of speech." You don't need to be a legal scholar to see that a law that limits the expression of speech by any collection of people, whether assembled into a non-profit, PAC, union or corporate entity, is a clear abridging of free speech. I may hate unions as much as some of my progressive counterparts hate corporations but both have an equal right to represent their views if they wish. Merely not wanting to be inundated with commercials (which btw happens every election cycle now anyway), or disagreeing with the concept of a free market isn't enough to overturn the constitution and bill of rights of this great country. And to the premise of this article, will not create a single real private industry job. Not even a green job.

The Obama administration has "gotten involved" in the auto industry, and wants to take over the health care industry (yes Virginia, changing insurance into an entitlement WILL result in a single payer system eventually), heavily regulate the banking industry, fund the green revolution, while creating a hostile business climate with limits on corporate speech. Debt spiraling ever upwards, the government currently consumes 20% of our economy, projected to be as much as 40% given current entitlement spending. At some point you have to wonder what's left for American people who just want jobs?

Thirty six thousand jobs were lost in the most recent jobs report, with over four million lost since Obama took office. Unemployment is still 9.7%, with "true" unemployment near the 20% mark. Modest improvements in the economy and a million census jobs may help bring that figure down a little bit (for a time at least), but the reality is that the country is hurting and needs the job market to improve. We're not going to get there by continuing to blame Bush (who incidentally for most of his two terms presided over an unemployment rate at around 5.5%, which is known by economists as "full employment") or by creating even more government bureaucracies that increase government debt along with the regulatory and tax burden on business and individuals. This is Obama's economy now, yet despite his well articulated words during the state of the union, the jobs situation continues to take a back seat to his highly partisan progressive agenda.

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About The Obnoxious American

  • http://joannehuspek.wordpress.com Joanne Huspek

    Yup. So far just talk about jobs. Talk is nothing. This jobs bill does nothing for us. Why would we hire anyone to get $1000 in tax credit when a good portion of Southeastern Michigan doesn’t have a job? We need working people with real incomes to buy what we provide. When people have income, they can buy stuff, like, let’s see… houses, cars, HEALTH INSURANCE. This is strictly an agenda pushing administration with no clue about the nuts and bolts of Main Street.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Actually, these guys have lots of clues about Main Street – and shutting it down. Obama is a banker’s baby, and represents those elites running (and ruining) your country who are bankers – paper shufflers, in other words. Mentally, they have a great deal in common with bureaucrats and academics (who are also big in this administration, in case you haven’t noticed).

    Bankers, though, get hard-ons from rolling the dice – and betting your money. They have been getting multiple orgasms off that for years now – until some mohel came with a sharp knife and sliced off a lot of their “tools”, so to speak. They are kind of like generals who get hard-ons trying to figure out how this or that regiment will take a hill or conquer a country – with your children.

    Obama and friends, though they represent bankers, get hard-ons from figuring out how they are going to control your economy, your life – and steal your money.

    From now on, anything that brings Obama down, whatever it is, is something I’m liable to like. It’s time to bring the bastard to his knees….

  • The Obnoxious American

    Ruvy

    The bankers aren’t the problem here. To suggest such is to agree with Obama and many of his platforms. Bankers may be greedy (is that a bad thing?) but they are also capitalists, and believers in a free market.

    What’s bringing down mainstreet is marxist policies being jammed down the throats of the American people by this rogue regime we have in Washington.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    OB,

    This comment was originally addressed to the health care debate (one of a zillion articles on the subject) but I’m dragging it over here (with changes) because I think it is relevant. It’s a long read, but it makes my arguments for me.

    The second article I dragged it to was here and dealt with why Obama was the worst president since FDR….

    Braden would like to have us join the revisionist crowd and paint FDR as a bad news president. This comment offers some additional data on FDR, and why he did what he did.

    Braden is correct – Franklin Roosevelt campaigned on a platform of smaller government and lower taxes, and then proceeded to do what Hoover ought to have done, but didn’t quite have the cojones to do. And now for the original comment, with modifications.

    Glenn and I have argued over this (whether the United States could afford universal health care) for quite some time. Going back to Glenn’s comment #66….

    On Reagan making government smaller. I checked your reference…and found this quote: “Federal spending more than doubled, growing from almost $591 billion in 1980 to $1.25 trillion in 1990. In constant inflation-adjusted dollars, this was an increase of 35.8 percent.”

    So, um, no…Reagan didn’t make for smaller government. He grew it. Furthermore, if you’ll check the year-by-year growth of the federal debt, Republican and Democratic presidents were ALWAYS fairly fiscally conservative and kept our deficit down to a manageable level (except during WWII of course)…until Reagan came along. Our national debt had NEVER ballooned in peacetime until Reagan allowed it to happen.

    And here’s my favorite quote from Dick Cheney: “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.”

    Think about that sentence and what it implies about what Reagan, Bush, and Bush have done. Clinton tried to get it back under control and got us a really nice surplus…but you can see above what Vice President Cheney thought about having a surplus.

    We see Glenn setting up Republicans for the charge of irresponsible spending.

    From reading this, one would think that Glenn would want to rein in federal spending in your country to get a surplus, no? Fat chance!! Around 35 comments later he talks about how FDR had to go into deficit spending – supposedly to bring the country out of depression.

    Guess what! That’s not what happened. FDR did prevent a revolution in the United States. I still remember my own father and mother (may they rest in peace) talking about how folks were ready to overthrow the government in 1933. My dad, the doctrinaire socialist, wanted that to happen, even though he was doing good, making money, even in the Depression. My mom (who was supporting her own mom by selling pencils on the street corners), was moving from apartment to apartment every three months to get away from the landlord that she could never pay.

    I shudder to think what a revolution breaking out in 1933 would have done to her and my grandma.

    So let’s go over what FDR did and what he accomplished, and what he didn’t accomplish. He stopped a communist revolution and a likely civil war. He got enough people working to get some food on the table, and restore some sense of dignity to people who were losing hope – like my mother.

    He accomplished this by changing the price of gold from around $16/ounce to $35/ounce, decreasing the dollar to half of its previous value. Then he minted money to beat the band. When you are a creditor nation you can do that kind of thing with impunity, and everybody owed the United States from the debts they had run up fighting the Great War. Also, Roosevelt introduced Social Security, a minimum wage (20 cents/hr), a 40 hour week, welfare, etc., etc. In other words he got the bare bones of a safety net going so the little guy did not slide under the ice if he skated on thin ice. And everybody was skating on thin ice in those days.

    But terrible things happened in the decade of the Thirties. Google up Dust Bowl, “Grapes of Wrath”, Route 66, and you will see the terrible things that happened – even under the supposedly successful administration of Roosevelt. Roosevelt did not bring the United States out of the Depression. The United States did not come out of recession in the 1930’s. Business remained slow, production was low, salaries were low.

    You don’t spend yourself out of a recession – you produce your way out!!!

    And here is the thing you need to understand – very clearly. When Roosevelt was minting money to beat the band, he was trying to re-inflate prices, as the US had been in a four year deflationary period during the Hoover administration, and at the time, it didn’t matter if Roosevelt spent like a drunken sailor. The United States was a creditor nation!!!

    The United States produced the weapons that kept the British Empire afloat while it was the sole power fighting Hitler. The United States produced uniforms, tanks and on and on and on – and after Tojo screwed up by attacking Pearl Harbor in 1941, and after Hitler declared war a couple of days later, the United States production capacity went into full gear.

    The government slapped on price controls, rationing (we still have some of the ration cards my father-in-law gave us), and my dad made a fortune selling food on the black market.

    And when the United States came out of WWII, it was a powerful colossus. And everybody still owed the United States money.

    Every time there was a recession after WWII, the heat was on to prime the pump and spend money, and this was especially true during the Kennedy administration when JFK told Americans, “a rising tide lifts all boats” to soothe them over possible inflation.

    The Baby Boom guaranteed twenty years of prosperity – and the corporate thugs in America grew fat, kicked and got greedy.

    And from 1957 onwards they bled the American economy of money in many, many ways – until in 1973, they pulled off the coup of coups, and used a war to triple the price of oil. And don’t get this wrong. The tripling of the price of oil was not a consequence of the Yom Kippur war. The war was the cover for the tripling of the price of oil.

    If only we had known and understood. But we didn’t. And most people still don’t know and still don’t want to understand.

    Once the price of oil went up, the living standards in the States dropped rapidly and in most households both spouses had to work to make ends meet. The “feminist revolution” was thus made to serve the ends of corporate thugs who were able to keep wages down by temporarily increasing the size of the workforce.

    Having done that, they (the corporate thugs) then started increasing unemployment by closing the factories that had provided the basis for the war production in WWII, and for the subsequent post-war prosperity, and the middle class it created. The rust-belt came into being as millions of factory workers lost the well paying jobs they had to foreigners overseas. In 1976, the federal budget was 372 billion dollars. By 1980, the government was spending $590 billion. This was the effect of the inflation of the Carter administration, nearly doubling the budget over 5 years. And by 1980, Ronald Reagan was able to kick Carter out using two tools – Carter’s miserable failure in dealing with Iran, and the “misery index”, the inflation rate added to the interest rate.

    What had effectively happened was that corporate thugs destroyed the productive capacity of much of the American economy.

    Now back to comment #66.

    “Federal spending more than doubled, growing from almost $591 billion in 1980 to $1.25 trillion in 1990. In constant inflation-adjusted dollars, this was an increase of 35.8 percent.”

    After 1981, the United States was no longer a creditor nation.

    And there was a terrible recession in 1981-82. The recession was supposedly combated with deficit spending, the kind of wild spending with numbers made up out of nothing – but in reality, it was computers and production of computers that got the economy going.

    In 1987, the stock market crashed for just a bit, creating a recession. While the government used deficit spending to try to get out of the second Reagan Recession, what really got the economy out were computer applications – production. When the economy slowed again at the end of the first Bush administration, and Clinton was talking about “the economy, stupid”, it was computer applications – again production – that pulled the economy out of the fire. These applications led to the dot.com investment boom, which soon became a bubble – and investors, not understanding that information technology is a winner that requires time to win, burst their bubble – and killed the economy. That was 2000.

    Since 2000, there has been no real production to fuel the economy. It has all been loans!

    Are you getting the picture? In 1990, when Bush decided to go to war with Iraq, he held out the cup like a beggar, trying to get foreign nations to pay for the first Gulf War. His son did not have that kind of intelligence, and could not get foreigners to cough up the cash. So, since then, the USA has been getting by on borrowing off future generations, effectively making the Chinese, Japanese, Russians, and Arabs owners of America.

    And the crack-up came in 2008 – and because the United States is a debtor nation in hock up to its neck, it is far more vulnerable to foreign control than it was in 1933.

    This article is not about health care. But we need to see clearly what the deal is so we can all understand. I honestly think that “conservatives” like Braden do not really want to understand because they have been backing the rights of the corporate thugs to rape America. They backed the right of the bankers and the stock equity sellers to get together once again to turn Wall Street into a wild casino on speed. For them to comprehend what went wrong in the first decade of the 21st century would require them to admit that the so-called “free enterprise” legislation of Reagan and Clinton was wrong.

    Because in addition to whatever problems FDR may have introduced into the 1930’s economy, he also introduced a stabilizing factor – strong regulation of banks and equity sellers. And by doing this, he prevented the United States from falling into a fascist economic system.

    What happened in September 2008 was the introduction of a fascist system of economics by George Bush – and Barack Obama, by spending the dollar into meaninglessness and attempting to take over a third of the economy, has deepened this fascism and made it impossible to shake off.

    I do not care what “ism” Obama pretends to – or what “ism” his critics accuse him of practicing. He is introducing fascism.

    I would remind the readers here that Benito Mussolini took control of Italy in 1922. It was not until 1925 that he has his system in place. Roman Fascism was not built in a day.

    Today, America is on its way to being a fascist dictatorship.

    Proof?

    Obama cannot produce a birth certificate and has spent over a million dollars to suppress his personal data and fight off challenges to his legitimacy.

    He attacked Fox News as an illegitimate news medium. He stopped when Fox Media stopped backing up World Net Daily in its attacks on Obama.

    But as if this weren’t enough, we now see that Fox News reversed itself on Geert Wilders while its leading critics called him a fascist – following the politically correct policies of Obama’s best buds overseas, the Wahhabi Arabs who have so much control over so much of the media in the United States.

    You do not need formal censorship to do your work for you. Obama, the bankers’ boy toy, had an investor do the dirty work for him.

    This is the slow road to fascism you travel. And every day that Obama retains power is one more day you draw closer to becoming a fascist dictatorship.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    OB,

    The United States is not a fascist dictatorship and it is not going to become one if Obama remains in power.

    We need to maintain a strong federal government in-order to achieve consistency among the states and to protect the rights of all the American citizens.

    :)Good morning, Ruvy.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Good afternoon, Jeannie,

    You know, Mussolini had his fan club, too, back in the flapper era….

    But the flappers and Mussolini both are just skeletons in the ground and now we have the new fascist – Obama. And America is not a dictatorship – yet. But it is on the way down the old blackshirt road (check out the cops’ uniforms)….

    Don’t get me wrong, Jeannie. The Bush’s are also fascists – but they aren’t up to bat now, Obama is.

    See ya later, Jeannie….

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Speaking of Mussolini fan clubs, check out the movie, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie….

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    You should worry more about your own president, Ruvy…

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton is now being treated very respectfully.

    :)good afternoon

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    The president of Israel is allegedly a figure-head, even though he is a sadist and a murderer.

    Your president, even though he may not be a murderer or sadist, has real powers that the Israeli president gets a hard-on thinking about.

    As for Mrs. Clinton, whatever respect she gets is undeserved….

    Shabbat Shalom,
    Ruvy

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    It’s better than an earlier comment that all she’s good for is . . .

  • The Obnoxious American

    Jeannie,

    The Framers didn’t agree in a strong federal government, or they would have framed it that way. They explicitly didn’t for a reason and wouldn’t recognize the Obama vision of centralized management as the country that they founded.

    What you blithely describe as consistency is yet another way of saying that the Obama, Pelosi and Reid will define whatever it is, for everyone. See they aren’t “concerning themselves with the procedural issues.”

    Scary times indeed, unless you’re a sheep or dictator.

    And Ruvy, I’m no Bush apologist, but you simply cannot compare Bush to Obama. Not only was he a better and smarter president, but he was actually more honest. Never thought in a million years I’d ever say it but it’s true.

    Check out Peggy Noonan’s article today in the journal, which goes into detail on some of this.

  • Baronius

    Obnox – Very interesting article by Noonan. I read the transcript of the Baier interview, and I really hope the president came off as more intelligent live.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Baronius,

    Haha, I wouldn’t count on it. After all, has he ever really come off as all that intelligent?

    I mean sure what he says all sounds good if you don’t think too much about it, but even during the campaign (or shall I say pre-election – he’s still campaigning) Obama’s schtick quickly became tired and formulaic; the head swinging back and forth like a tennis match, the strawmaning, the false choice giving, “crisis”… Would a truly intelligent man do these things on the presidential stage? Stake his presidency on legislation requiring the current antics? I don’t think so, and I guess that’s Ms. Noonan’s point after all. Noonan actually supported Obama when he was elected, and to write such a devastating article a little over a year later is astounding.

    Obama may be book smart but I don’t think anyone can really say that this man is all that intelligent. You or I could make better calls than this.

  • The Obnoxious American

    Ruvy,

    Some elements of what you posted are a bit wacko to say the least, and I’m not sure who authored which parts of that but I did want to address a few points:

    In general, I’m from the Amity Shlaes school of thought, no fan of FDR.

    Whether President Reagan increased or decreased the size of government is irrelevant. What he did do was reduce the tax rate on working Americans, and this unleashed a major growth in individual wealth. Incidentally when individuals are getting wealthy, they wind up paying lots of taxes which allows you to grow government. The alternative to this is to tax the populace so the rich pay their “fair share” to the point that they are being taxed into submission.

    The corporate thugs part, just sounds nuts. I mean sure, some industries close down when they are no longer profitable. It sucks but so what? People need to keep an eye on their career and make sure they can earn a living for themselves. Is that really too much to ask for? If the only thing you know how to do is turn a screw on one type of machine, one day you’re gonna be out of a job, there is no corporate thuggery about that.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    OB,

    This is False:

    The Framers didn’t agree in a strong federal government, or they would have framed it that way.

    The framers allowed for Amendments and growth; they knew that we would be a much larger nation in the future and would require a larger legislative body.

    Obama, Pelosi and Reid as opposed to Bush and his troupe of cronies?

    The last administration did tremendous and irreversible damage to this country, and I would hardly call this description “blithy”.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    What makes YOU the authority on Obama’s intellect?

    I could make better calls than this.

    :)bye, the sun is shining and I want to get some fresh air.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ jeannie danna

    OB,

    Just a few words of advice for you.

    “Allow the rest of the world to exist.”

    America is the greatest country in the history of mankind.

    Ethnocentrism is a preexisting condition for some in this country.

  • Baronius

    Jeannie, your comment #16 is all wrong. The issue isn’t the size of the legislative branch (a few thousand) or even the millions in the executive branch. It’s the scope of the federal government. And it hasn’t expanded through amendment of the Constitution. It’s been steadily growing into areas that the Founders never would have expected. If you want to amend it, fine, but we shouldn’t be pretending that the Constitution allows for the ridiculous growth of federal power. As for the Founders’ intentions, they’re clearly spelled out in works like The Federalist Papers.