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.