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Two and a half years after the election, after the imposition of a heathcare plan, a Fin Reg bill, two rounds of quantitative easing, and one gargantuan stimulus plan, President Barack Obama is once again promising to “pivot” towards job creation. To say most Americans are less than enthused might be an understatement. Last week the president’s approval rating dipped to 39 percent, the lowest rating of his presidency so far. Yesterday, the president said he will present a plan to Congress — after Labor Day. Prior to that he will be embarking on a vacation to Martha’s Vineyard, after “a busy and productive July,” according to a White House spokesman.
One can only wonder what constitutes busy and productive in this president’s mind. On the most pressing issue of that month, the debt ceiling debate, Mr. Obama’s entire contribution consisted of throwing a last-minute road block in front of House Speaker John Boehner, when Mr. Obama demanded another $400 billion in higher taxes in exchange for deficit reduction. Negotiations aside, Boehner revealed something far more telling. “Where’s the president’s plan?” he asked. “When’s he going to lay his cards on the table? This debt limit increase is his problem, and I think it’s time for him to lead by putting his plan on the table, something that Congress can pass,” he said, when a debt ceiling deal was still very much up in the air.
No presidential plan was forthcoming. The House and the Senate hashed out a deal and the president signed it in a somber affair at the White House Rose Garden. In his ensuing speech, the president promoted the same job-creating talking points that have been the staple of his administration. Charles Krauthammer offered a devastating assessment of those points two days after the speech:
An index of how spent he is sort of intellectually on the issue of jobs is the campaign speech he gave today, the fourth in 10 days, in which he pivoted, he did his pivot, and he announced five initiatives. Listen to them. Payroll tax extension: We already have that. Unemployment insurance extension: Already have that. Trade deals: He’s had it for two and a half years and done nothing. Spending on more infrastructure: a perennial–you know, more dams, more bridges and roads. And the last one, I love that. Here’s the real new one that will get us out of our doldrums: patent process reform. Now that I think is the key to economic explosion, getting us out of 9 percent unemployment.
Krauthammer then cut to the essence of Mr.Obama’s policies. “He did a huge Keynesian gamble, and it failed,” he concluded.
On his current bus tour of the Midwest, Mr. Obama proposed more government solutions to the nation’s problems, most notably a rural jobs initiative plan, which consists of “bringing new capital, job training, and additional investments to our rural communities,” according to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Leftist economist and former Clinton administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich was unimpressed. ”They’re worth doing, but very tiny compared to the size of the problem we face: the huge shortfall in consumer demand and unwillingness of business to create enough jobs when consumers aren’t able to buy,” he cautioned. ”The White House must do more than come up with policy miniatures.”
Unfortunately, that miniature was the high point of the trip. The descent was rather abrupt, highlighted by Mr.Vilsack, who contended that the SNAP program, aka food stamps, is an economic stimulus. ”Every dollar of SNAP benefits generates $1.84 in the economy in terms of economic activity,” Vilsack said. “If people are able to buy a little more in the grocery store, someone has to stock it, package it, shelve it, process it, ship it. All of those are jobs. It’s the most direct stimulus you can get in the economy during these tough times,” he said.
As more than one pundit has pointed out, if such were the case, it would make sense to put every American in the country on food stamps.
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