July 10 2012
Gerson: The Obama Administration's Five Stages of Dealing with Pathetic Jobs Numbers
One would think, given so much practice, that the Obama White House would have been better prepared for last week’s wretched jobs report.
Instead, we witnessed the five stages of bad public relations. Delusion: It was a “step in the right direction.” Dismissiveness: Don’t “read too much into any one monthly report.” Grudging acceptance: “It’s still tough out there.” Cliche: “There are no quick fixes.” Self-pity: “I suspect that most people in Cincinnati would acknowledge that I’ve tried real hard.”
Gerson points out that at some stage in this sorry narrative of failure “the lowering of expectations seems more like the acceptance of permanent decline — a new normal less ambitious and optimistic than the old.” As for the notion that this jobs report was a “step in the right direction,” I suspect that that on some level the president and Democratic National Committee head Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who said something similar, and whose off the cuff remarks have made her a national treasure, believe that—or would, if it weren’t for the inconvenient political timing. After all, this jobs report doesn’t seem that drastic if you believe that the private sector is “doing fine.”
Because the Obama White House's faith in its policies is not shaken by reality, the White House’s response to the dismal jobs situation is: more of the same. We need tax hikes and regulation and more rhetoric about “the wealthy.” The president’s unveiling of an aggressive tax hike on “the wealthy” yesterday was more of the same. Jonathan Tobin of Commentary points out why this move is both cynically political and dangerous to the pocketbooks of those who hardly number among the denigrated “millionaires and billionaires:”
While calculated to play well with his faux working class campaign rhetoric, the president’s plan makes no economic sense. Implementing a massive tax increase on those with the capital to invest it and therefore create jobs is not the sort of thing that will help a flagging economy. Nor will it do anything to stem the bleeding that creates job reports such as the one released last Friday that illustrated the country’s unemployment problem. But, as James Pethokoukis writes at the American Enterprise Blog, the president’s dare to Congress to pass such a plan or to implement a simpler tax code is pure political baloney.
As Pethokoukis points out, had he really wished to push through a simplification of the tax code, he could have endorsed the Simpson-Bowles Commission recommendations. More to the point, Obama’s predilection has always been to eliminate all the Bush-era tax cuts, including those on the middle class. If he is re-elected, he may well implement his promise of the continuation of the current rates on those making less than $250,000. But the significant element of this stance is that he is not promising to keep them for his entire second term but only for the first year.
The key point here is the same one that concerns those who worry about American foreign policy in a second Obama administration: flexibility. Just as the president will be able to implement more “flexible” policies that may please Russia and displease Israel, so, too, he is more likely than not to do what he has always planned on doing if re-elected: raise everybody’s taxes.
While pesky in a campaign season, the current jobs figures aren't nearly as important The Mission is to a man who sees his office in personal terms and regards himself as a historic figure of vast significance in world history. A second term would give the president the flexibility to raise taxes on us all, thus putting enough money in the government’s coffers to make it the central, if not the only, center of authority in our nation. Completing the mission of fundamental of transformation of our country apparently takes two terms.