Obama is the Jobs Grinch
Labor Department numbers came out recently showing soft job-creation for the month of November. This is nothing new, of course. Job-creation has been weaker than expected ever since Obama began his attack on capitalism. What's new is a shift in the quality of jobs available.
Most of the jobs created last month were temporary, low-wage positions in the service industries. Of the 120,000 new jobs created, 50,000 were in the retail sector. Most of these are minimum-wage positions, many of them temporary holiday hires. The "leisure and hospitality" sector, which includes jobs in the food service industry, accounted for 22,000 of the total.
The poor quality of jobs on offer is not good news for the 6 million Americans who've lost their jobs since Obama took office. The jobs on offer were so unattractive, in fact, that over 300,000 workers dropped out of the labor market altogether in November alone. The labor participation rate, a crucial measure of the strength of the overall economy, has fallen to its lowest level since 1980.
None of this had to happen. In January 2009, Obama came into office at a propitious moment. The Great Recession of 2008 was drawing to a close, and the future looked bright. In a typical recovery, economic growth accelerates to 6%, millions of jobs are created, government revenues increase, and markets rally to all-time highs. All of this happened under President Reagan in the 1980s and under President George W. Bush in the 2000s. But none of this has happened under Obama.
The reason grows out of Obama's deep-seated antipathy toward capitalism. Obama has spent three years lost in his own private fantasyland of government-subsidized "green energy jobs" while attacking those "millionaires and billionaires" who actually create jobs.
Under the Obama administration, there has been a concerted effort to attack American industry. Every major corporation, from Boeing to Intel to the health care sector as a whole, has been the subject of harassment by the Justice Department, EPA, SEC, FCC, NLRB, and hundreds of other federal agencies, all stocked with thousands of regulators and litigators sucking the blood out of American businesses.
In short, Obama has sacrificed this recovery on the altar of his radical Marxist ideology.
Every ordinary American understands that jobs are created when businesses make a profit. Profits translate into expansion, which translates into new hiring. But when businesses are subjected to aggressive new regulation and taxation, they make less profit, and hiring is curtailed.
Ordinary Americans understand this, but their commander-in-chief does not. "Now is not the time" for profits, Obama said back in 2009, setting the tone for his administration. "That's a message I intend to send directly to them," he stated, and that is what he has done. And as a result, businesses have been reluctant to hire. Recovery from the 2008 recession has been the weakest of any in American history, and the result is that the jobs market has been devastated.
This weak recovery has taken place because the president has sacrificed jobs to the special interests funding his reelection. All of Obama's special-interest bundlers -- environmentalists, union leaders, and trial lawyers -- support policies that inhibit growth, either through increased regulation, higher wages, and inflexible work rules or litigation. Obama has rewarded these special interests, and the economy has responded exactly as one might expect.
Again, it didn't have to be this way. If Obama had dedicated the last three years to removing obstacles to growth -- cutting regulations, lowering corporate and individual taxes, and restoring confidence by talking up business instead of attacking it -- America would now be in the midst of a 1980s-style recovery.
Three years out from the deep recession of 1980-81, the Reagan recovery was well underway, with GDP rising 7.2%. Under Obama, three years out, it rose 1.3% in the second quarter of this year and 2.0% in the third quarter. At this point in the Reagan presidency, unemployment had fallen from 7.3% from a recession high of 10.8%. At the same point in the presidency of George W. Bush, in December 2003, the unemployment rate was 5.7% on its way down to 4.4% in October 2006. By every objective measure, the Obama presidency has been a failure.
Had the president simply stood by and done nothing, the economy would have done better than it has. Instead, Obama has gone out of his way to kill off jobs. The NLRB attempt to block Boeing from building the 787 Dreamliner in South Carolina is a good example. That outrageous attack on the right of a company to do business where and how it sees fit sent a chilling message -- not only to Boeing, but to every employer in America.
That message was that government can deploy its "protection squadrons" of lawyers and bureaucrats to crush any private enterprise that gets in the way of the social good, as defined by The Leader. That has been the message to Boeing, to Gibson Guitar Company, to AT&T (in its proposed merger with T-Mobile), to America's health insurance companies in the run-up to passage of ObamaCare, to the Big Banks, and to Big Oil.
Obama's squadrons of environmental reviewers have also blocked the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project. Had the pipeline been approved two years ago, as it should have been, one million families would be having a merrier Christmas this year. As it is, they will have nothing under the tree because the breadwinners in those families have no jobs. There will be a million children with no presents to open because Obama thinks his reelection is more important than anything.
Experts agree that the Keystone XL project would have created 20,000 high-paying jobs almost immediately, with as many as one million spinoff jobs generated in related services and support including the Gulf refineries that process the oil; suppliers of steel for the pipeline; and providers of equipment, housing, and services for pipeline workers.
The ripple effects of a project of this magnitude would have been enough to make 2011 a Merry Christmas for a million families, had the pipeline not been delayed by this job-killing president. But because Obama cares more about the environmental lobby than he does about the plight of children, Santa won't be showing up this year. Oh, well -- maybe they can spend Christmas doing jumping jacks.
Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and article on American culture, including Heartland of the Imagination (2011).