September 6 2011
Jobs And The Beltway Looking Glass
Obama tells labor unions in Detroit he won't wait on Congress over new jobs plan
That's a headline in today's Washington Post, and it raises a question: So our economic woes are because that nice President Obama was waiting on Congress but now he won't?
Does this meant that the president now plans to go ahead and do on his own things that our unpatriotic old Congress says he can't do (unfortunately, when it comes to putting in place regulations rejected by Congress, the administration has done this)?
Well, actually, we all know what it means: Congress is the president's new scapegtoat. This is the president's latest ploy to blame somebody else for the failure of his policies, which is a hallmark of both adolescents and his administration. Voters would have to be really stupid to fall for this: Obama had a Democratic Congress until this year. His Democratic Congress passed one of the biggest, boldest, most transformational pieces of legislation in American history: Obamacare. Unfortunately, Obamacare also seriously slows hiring.
With this in mind, I expect that President Obama's speech Thursday is likely to attempt two things: throw down a gauntlet to Congress, which is replacing George Bush as his opponent in the upcoming campaign, and dress up the same old same old policies that have not served the nation well since he took office. Why, then, if he has so little to say, did the president insist upon giving his speech before a joint session of Congress? Bill McGurn explains:
The answer to the other question has more to do with our Looking Glass Beltway. In this universe, a bigger stage is often the solution for a lack of substance. Put it this way: Without the backdrop of a joint session of Congress, how many networks would broadcast another Obama jobs speech?
You can't fault the logic. When Mr. Obama entered office, he told us unemployment would not rise over 8% if we passed his stimulus. Now his economic advisers have just told us that unemployment will not fall below the 9% mark through next year. As if to underscore the grim news, the latest jobs report-released in time for Labor Day weekend-shows zero net job growth for August.
The politics requires not only that the president address the economy's dismal jobs performance but that he be seen by the American people to be doing it. And that's where the teleprompter meets the road.
Obama is right that Republicans won't let him spend more on his failed jobs policy. But that is because the American people are beginning to ask: Where does this money Congress spends come from? They are also beginning to know the answer to that question: It comes from us.
I don't want to do a separate post on Republican hopeful Jon Huntsman's economic plan--his constituency seems to be composed primarily of members of the mainstream media, some of whom might actually hold their noses and vote for him, given Obama's abysmal performance. But Huntsman does understand what is holding our economy back better than his former boss Barack Obama:
President Obama believes we can tax and spend and regulate our way to prosperity. We cannot. We must compete our way to prosperity. To do that, we must equip the American worker and the American entrepreneur with the tools to compete in the global economy....
For individual taxpayers, we will introduce three drastically lower rates of 8%, 14% and 23%. Eliminating deductions and credits in favor of lower marginal rates will yield a simpler and more efficient system, decreasing the taxpayer burden. We'll also use the increased revenue from closing loopholes to make business tax rates globally competitive and eliminate double taxes on investment, both measures that will encourage hiring.
Huntsman would privatize Fannie and Freddie, "expedite" the process of obtaining oil and gas from the Gulf of Mexico (the projects would have to be "environmentally sound," as if anybody wants projects that are unsound), and promote free trade agreements (they're on President Obama's desk now-all a new president would have to do is send them up Pennsylvania Avenue). Huntsman calls Dodd-Frank, which is tying up the ability of banks to make loans, "a monstrosity."