We Need Jobs, Not Another Jobs Speech by the President
President Obama was under a lot of pressure after an August 2011 jobs report told the tale in no uncertain terms. Job growth in that month was zero, and the unemployment rate was stuck at a disturbingly high level -- 9.1%. Following a much-publicized brouhaha over the scheduling of a "jobs speech" in September 2011, President Obama finally delivered an address to the nation in which he outlined yet another stimulus program to create jobs.
After all the hoopla associated with the speech, investors expected something imaginative -- something new, different, and better. Instead, the president tossed up a $450-billion package that looked eerily similar to the "stimulus" programs he sold to Congress in 2009 -- the ones that failed so miserably. Infrastructure spending, aid to states, high-speed rail, and temporary tax cuts highlighted the president's proposal, just like they did almost three years earlier. Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) gave an accurate assessment of the president's proposal: "I didn't hear any new ideas." The reason Ryan didn't hear any new ideas is because there weren't any.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped more than 300 points the day following the president's speech, or about 3%. Investors seemed to be saying, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." We've reached the point where Barack Obama isn't believable on Wall Street or on Main Street. Only die-hard Obamanistas take our president seriously. That's a dangerous state of affairs, because we face daunting challenges on multiple fronts both at home and abroad.
In his jobs speech, Obama said, "There should be nothing controversial about this piece of legislation. Everything in here is the kind of proposal that's been supported by both Democrats and Republicans -- including many who sit here tonight. And everything in this bill will be paid for. Everything." As usual, the president didn't explain how everything will be paid for.
After the jobs speech, President Obama hit the road to sell his "new" plan to the American people. At one stop on his journey, the president said, "If you love me, you gotta help me pass this bill." This isn't about love. It's about jobs, and President Obama's plan won't work this time any better than it worked the last time or the time before that. I like the way Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) described the president's plan on Meet the Press on September 18, 2011: "There's little to be learned from the second kick of a mule."
A few days after he gave the jobs speech in September, President Obama hustled to the podium again to deliver another deficit speech. This is what David Brooks, a columnist for the New York Times, said about the president's deficit speech:
I'm a sap, a specific kind of sap. I'm an Obama Sap.
When the president said the unemployed can't wait 14 more months for help and we had to do something right away, I believed him. When administration officials called around saying that the possibility of a double-dip recession was horrifyingly real and that it would be irresponsible not to come up with a package that could pass right away, I believed them.
I liked Obama's payroll tax cut ideas and urged Republicans to play along. But of course I'm a sap. When the president unveiled the second half of his stimulus it became clear that this package has nothing to do with helping people right away or averting a double dip. This is a campaign marker, not a jobs bill.
It recycles ideas that couldn't get passed even when Democrats controlled Congress.
Brooks was correct. The president just rehashed the same old, same old. Generally speaking, the left loved the president's deficit speech because it was laced with "tax the rich" invective, and the right hated it for the same reason. But -- and this is a big but -- liberal Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York) didn't like it at all. The tax hikes that the president kept saying were essential were too liberal for him, and the same is true for the majority of Democratic senators, no matter what their political bent happens to be.
The political landscape is taking shape, and Obama's tax-and-spend approach is becoming less popular every day as voters are coming to terms with stark reality. Keep in mind that in 2009, a heavily Democratic Congress gave the president carte blanche to deal with our nation's economic woes. The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and other stimulus programs that cost American taxpayers close to $2 trillion were supposed to revitalize the economy and keep the unemployment rate below 8%, but they were designed by President Obama to achieve his objectives, not ours.
People who were hoping for change when they voted for Obama were disheartened because what they got was the largest and most expensive boondoggle in American history. The change that President Obama had in mind was even more taxing and spending -- more than thinking people dreamed possible. Jobs to him are little more than an afterthought. Even with increasing political pressure to do something meaningful to create jobs, Obama still can't admit that we have a serious problem and that his approach isn't working.
The latest round of political gimmickry should convince any thinking person that President Obama is just playing games while our economy crumbles. As I said in a recent American Thinker blog entry, Senate Democrats didn't even take up the president's "jobs plan" until a few days ago, and immediately, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) moved "to block Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's attempt to bring the 'jobs' bill up for a vote in the Senate." But that's not all. Senate Democrats tacked onto the "jobs" bill a "millionaires' tax," and Reid rewrote Senate rules to make it very difficult for the minority party to force the majority party to take uncomfortable votes. If that's not political game-playing, I don't know what is.
Making the charade even more surreal, Obama took to the airwaves again on Thursday and blamed Republicans for standing in the way of progress. He even attacked "Mitch McConnell several times by name, without ever acknowledging the real reason his legislation has stalled in the upper chamber: Democratic opposition."
This is the bottom line. We need jobs -- not another jobs speech by the president. An unemployment rate above 9% is unacceptably high, and the economy is moving in the wrong direction. Almost everyone except the president seems to know that. Obama's jobs and deficit speeches have done nothing to help solve our economic problems, and time us running short. We need change we can believe in, and we need it fast. Thankfully, November 2012 is just around the corner. It will be a referendum on President Obama's performance deficit.
Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia. His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily. His latest book is titled If You Voted for Obama in 2008 to Prove You're Not a Racist, You Need to Vote for Someone Else in 2012 to Prove You're Not an Idiot.