'Brighter Days Ahead'

President Obama has compared himself to a lot of other presidents, including Lincoln, FDR, and Reagan. He is starting to sound a lot like Herbert Hoover.

At a battery factory in North Carolina, the president declared that "[b]righter days are still ahead." Battery factories are presumably the place to look for those two million green jobs that were promised fifteen months ago. With the shift to alternative energy, companies that produce batteries, solar panels, and windmills were supposed to lead the country out of recession. Instead, despite eight billion dollars of federal subsidies, investment in wind dropped last year to half of what it was in 2008. Lacking an infusion of funds, at least one major solar company appears headed for bankruptcy.

Not only that, but most of the cash earmarked for alternative energy is going to companies in China and Denmark, not to create jobs in America. The number of new green jobs created in the last fifteen months is only half of one percent of the eight million jobs lost since the beginning of the Great Recession. At that rate, it will take two hundred years to return to the 2007 full employment numbers of the Bush administration.

"Brighter days are still ahead." I'm not sure what is meant by the word "still" in that sentence. To my mind, it suggests a note of uncertainty, like telling the Cardinals down 3-0 in the World Series, "You boys can still win this thing."

What makes the president think the economy will come roaring back with all he has done to kill it? He has quadrupled the current deficit, projected a doubling of the national debt by 2020, imposed health care burdens on businesses large and small, advanced burdensome cap-and-trade legislation, exposed businesses to additional tort risk (most recently through sections of the financial reform bill exposing businesses to further whistle-blower charges), advanced union agendas in the workplace, and penciled in drastic tax hikes on savings and investment. All of these legislative initiatives are job-killers, yet the president talks about brighter days ahead. Instead of bailing water out of the boat, he's filling it with bucketsful.

Obama would have us believe that the April jobs numbers provide evidence of brighter days ahead. At a special briefing on the White House lawn, flanked by his economic advisors, the president announced the creation of 290,000 new jobs. The president, however, did not linger on the news that the unemployment rate had increased from 9.7% to 9.9%. Nor did he stress that 66,000 of the jobs are temporary census positions, while another 188,000 are unconfirmed positions inferred from the birth/death model employed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The birth/death model may well be overestimating the number of new jobs.

Perhaps the new jobs are supposed to come from manufacturing. After all, the president has promised to double U.S. exports within five years, and the latest employment figures did show an increase of 44,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector. At that rate, it will take only 182 years to return to the pre-Recession level, an improvement over the green jobs figure.

The problem with the president's promise to double exports is that it has not been followed up with action...or rather that it has been followed up with the wrong sorts of actions. If Obama wished to increase exports, he would reduce corporate taxes, cut regulation, and eliminate trade barriers by passing the pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. Most importantly, he would not increase costs by mandating that businesses pay for new health care benefits; he would not increase the cost of capital by raising taxes on dividends and capital gains; he would not increase energy costs by passing cap-and-trade legislation.

At a time when many economists, including Mark Zandi of economy.com, are forecasting unemployment rates over 10% by the end of 2010, it is difficult to understand what the president means by "brighter days." Maybe it's the same thing Herbert Hoover meant when he reassured Americans that better days were "just around the corner." That was in 1932, just before the nation plunged farther into the economic depths and stayed there for eight years under FDR. (Hoover was the same president who, in one of his more far-sighted moments, said, "Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt.")

For the 10% who are out of work and the 17.1% who are underemployed, Obama's reassuring words are cold comfort. These Americans might be working if the president had not limited their options to "green" jobs, if he had not taken the side of trial lawyers against businesses, if he had not passed ObamaCare with its future costs to businesses, if he had not unleashed cap-and-trade on businesses, and if he had not proposed job-killing taxes on businesses and investors alike.

Not to worry: "Brighter days are still ahead." Everything Obama has done has been an assault on American business, but somehow, magically, brighter days are forthcoming. The president's policies have made it more difficult for businesses to expand and hire new workers, but why worry? We have his word, if nothing else, that brighter days are just ahead. Prosperity is just around the corner.

Dr. Jeffrey Folks taught for thirty years in universities in Europe, America, and Japan. He has published many books and articles on American culture and politics.
President Obama has compared himself to a lot of other presidents, including Lincoln, FDR, and Reagan. He is starting to sound a lot like Herbert Hoover.

At a battery factory in North Carolina, the president declared that "[b]righter days are still ahead." Battery factories are presumably the place to look for those two million green jobs that were promised fifteen months ago. With the shift to alternative energy, companies that produce batteries, solar panels, and windmills were supposed to lead the country out of recession. Instead, despite eight billion dollars of federal subsidies, investment in wind dropped last year to half of what it was in 2008. Lacking an infusion of funds, at least one major solar company appears headed for bankruptcy.

Not only that, but most of the cash earmarked for alternative energy is going to companies in China and Denmark, not to create jobs in America. The number of new green jobs created in the last fifteen months is only half of one percent of the eight million jobs lost since the beginning of the Great Recession. At that rate, it will take two hundred years to return to the 2007 full employment numbers of the Bush administration.

"Brighter days are still ahead." I'm not sure what is meant by the word "still" in that sentence. To my mind, it suggests a note of uncertainty, like telling the Cardinals down 3-0 in the World Series, "You boys can still win this thing."

What makes the president think the economy will come roaring back with all he has done to kill it? He has quadrupled the current deficit, projected a doubling of the national debt by 2020, imposed health care burdens on businesses large and small, advanced burdensome cap-and-trade legislation, exposed businesses to additional tort risk (most recently through sections of the financial reform bill exposing businesses to further whistle-blower charges), advanced union agendas in the workplace, and penciled in drastic tax hikes on savings and investment. All of these legislative initiatives are job-killers, yet the president talks about brighter days ahead. Instead of bailing water out of the boat, he's filling it with bucketsful.

Obama would have us believe that the April jobs numbers provide evidence of brighter days ahead. At a special briefing on the White House lawn, flanked by his economic advisors, the president announced the creation of 290,000 new jobs. The president, however, did not linger on the news that the unemployment rate had increased from 9.7% to 9.9%. Nor did he stress that 66,000 of the jobs are temporary census positions, while another 188,000 are unconfirmed positions inferred from the birth/death model employed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The birth/death model may well be overestimating the number of new jobs.

Perhaps the new jobs are supposed to come from manufacturing. After all, the president has promised to double U.S. exports within five years, and the latest employment figures did show an increase of 44,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector. At that rate, it will take only 182 years to return to the pre-Recession level, an improvement over the green jobs figure.

The problem with the president's promise to double exports is that it has not been followed up with action...or rather that it has been followed up with the wrong sorts of actions. If Obama wished to increase exports, he would reduce corporate taxes, cut regulation, and eliminate trade barriers by passing the pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. Most importantly, he would not increase costs by mandating that businesses pay for new health care benefits; he would not increase the cost of capital by raising taxes on dividends and capital gains; he would not increase energy costs by passing cap-and-trade legislation.

At a time when many economists, including Mark Zandi of economy.com, are forecasting unemployment rates over 10% by the end of 2010, it is difficult to understand what the president means by "brighter days." Maybe it's the same thing Herbert Hoover meant when he reassured Americans that better days were "just around the corner." That was in 1932, just before the nation plunged farther into the economic depths and stayed there for eight years under FDR. (Hoover was the same president who, in one of his more far-sighted moments, said, "Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt.")

For the 10% who are out of work and the 17.1% who are underemployed, Obama's reassuring words are cold comfort. These Americans might be working if the president had not limited their options to "green" jobs, if he had not taken the side of trial lawyers against businesses, if he had not passed ObamaCare with its future costs to businesses, if he had not unleashed cap-and-trade on businesses, and if he had not proposed job-killing taxes on businesses and investors alike.

Not to worry: "Brighter days are still ahead." Everything Obama has done has been an assault on American business, but somehow, magically, brighter days are forthcoming. The president's policies have made it more difficult for businesses to expand and hire new workers, but why worry? We have his word, if nothing else, that brighter days are just ahead. Prosperity is just around the corner.

Dr. Jeffrey Folks taught for thirty years in universities in Europe, America, and Japan. He has published many books and articles on American culture and politics.

RECENT VIDEOS