President Obama’s defenders are taking to the airwaves to rebut the charge that his actions have caused the dire employment figure we see today. The rebuttals mirror those the President is making, and they sure don’t lack in audacity.
Some of the president’s enablers, for example, continue to claim that the unemployment rate is the fault of George W. Bush (even though it has been steadily rising two and a half years after Mr. Bush left office). Others say it is the structural result of deindustrialization. A third excuse making the rounds asserts that stalled talks over raising the debt ceiling have caused uncertainty and made businesses not hire.
Let’s quickly review the record. Here are five ways that President Obama’s actions have directly contributed to Friday’s dismal jobs report, which included a rise in unemployment to 9.2%, the news that only 18,000 jobs had been created in June in a country of 300 million people, that wages have declined and that 250,000 people left the job market entirely.
- Stimulus package—The nearly $1 trillion boondoggle failed to stimulate, as we all now know, but made government grow beyond its means. Most of the stimulus bill was filled with the usual government pork or repeating failed policies of the past such as “shovel-ready” projects. Very few provisions were pro-growth and worked to encourage companies to create new, permanent jobs. Some provisions, such as increased unemployment benefits, unfortunately increase the duration of unemployment. The bottom line is that the stimulus bill was based on the flawed economic assumption that governments can spend their way back to prosperity and growth. The government stimulus bill did not create jobs; instead it filled job creators with fears of future tax hikes or more borrowing, and thus future artificially high interest rates.
- Obamacare—It took the Administration and the Democratic-held Congress a year and half to ram this piece of legislation down the throat of the American people, time that could have been spent fixing the employment picture. Worse yet, Obamacare imposes vast and expansive new regulations and made labor costs uncertain. Many businesses have said that they are not going to hire permanent workers until they understand exactly how much Obamacare is going to cost their business and raise employment expenses. Other businesses are not sure how the new Obamacare regulations impacts their bottom line, which means they are going to sit tight instead of expanding.
- Frank-Dodd Financial Bill—The heavy-handed Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill not only placed needless burdens on small as well as large financial institutions, but has deterred investment by imposing ill-defined restrictions on those who want to invest in the economy. And it did so without addressing the real causes of the financial crisis.
- Environmental Protection Agency regulation—Unable to get Congress to pass Cap and Trade, with its skyrocketing electric rates, the Obama EPA is skinning the cat another way—mandating costly regulation. The EPA is implementing a lineup of electric-industry regulations, including the already in-force, but-as-yet-unspecified new CO2 rules, that promise higher rates, less reliability, and a sketchy future business environment. It’s no great surprise that firms haven’t turned up the throttle on hiring and expansion.
- Regulatory Assault on Employers—The Administration’s enforcement agencies view employers as lawbreakers who need to be brought in line. Within the Department of Labor the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Wage and Hour Division (WHD) have ramped up enforcement spending while cutting back programs that help employers understand and comply with the law. Obama’s Solicitor of Labor emphasizes the Labor Department’s focus on litigation against employers. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is twisting the law into pretzels to facilitate union organizing, going so far as to file charges against Boeing for creating jobs in a non-union state. Obama’s message to employers has been clear: “We suspect you are breaking the law and we will get you.” Small wonder they are not hiring.
You can follow Mike Gonzalez on Twitter @Gundisalvus.