In a recent Fox News appearance, columnist Charles Krauthammer delivered this chilling assessment of the unemployment situation:
The problem is at the consumer level, confidence is low and that is because, as you showed, showed we had underemployment with one out of every six Americans. The worst element of that is that among the unemployed, against the American history, more than approaching half, have been unemployed for over six months. That is historically unprecedented in the United States. That is a phenomenon that is seen often in Europe, rarely seen here. In 2007 the average time to get a new job was five weeks. It’s now near six months. And that implies a whole segment of the population, the more elderly or the middle-aged who may never get employed again.
The Administration has responded by floating the incredible claim that Barack Obama is actually a red tape cutter, whose Administration is “eliminating unnecessary regulatory burdens and tens of millions of hours in red tape,” according to “regulatory czar” Cass Sunstein. The unintentional hilarity of this pronouncement coming from one of the dozens of unelected, unaccountable “czars” installed by President Obama should be duly noted. We can streamline those messy regulations down into one simple rule: do as your czar commands!
It would be technically possible to have a smaller number of laws, but a greater regulatory burden. A single regulation making it illegal to sell petroleum-based fuel in the United States would have a far greater impact than a hundred little bits of micro-management.
Unsurprisingly, since this is the Obama Administration, the Regulatory Czar’s claims are more like a straight-up lie. The Washington Times is keeping score:
Bill Kovacs, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s vice president for environment, technology and regulatory affairs, said in a blog post that Mr. Sunstein’s claims of fewer regulations in the Obama administration are “disingenuous.”
Mr. Kovacs noted that the Government Accountability Office said there were 178 major rules reported to Congress in the final two years of the Bush administration, compared with 195 such rules in the first two years of the Obama presidency. And a Competitive Enterprise Institute study found 339 “economically significant” rules, defined as costing $100 million or more, in the last two years under Mr. Bush, but 408 such rules in the first two years of the Obama administration.
None of these totals includes the regulatory blizzard coming from ObamaCare, or the inevitable second wave of regulations that will be unleashed to address all the “unexpected” consequences.
This is all part of the “voters are stupid” meme that became popular with Obama and his admirers during the midterm elections, in which the Democrats’ impending beatdown was explained by suggesting angry voters lack the intelligence and sophistication to appreciate Obama’s magnificent leadership.
It also ties into the creepy proto-fascist rhetoric that Obama’s stale class warfare arguments have been degrading into. The Washington Times quotes the President advising us to “keep in mind that the business community is always complaining about regulations… when unemployment’s at 3 percent, and they’re making record profits, they’re going to still complain about regulations because, frankly, they want to be able to do whatever they think is going to maximize their profits.”
And we can’t have that, can we? The true purpose of business is to create jobs so politicians look good, fork over cash to finance their agenda, and behave in ways that reinforce their ideology. Businesses should stop complaining about how heavily they are regulated, and start doing what our brilliant leaders want them to. Complaints should be placed in the suggestion box at the office of your nearest czar, open for business at the government’s convenience.
Sunstein is suggesting that consumer confidence is low because dumb voters don’t appreciate all the great things the Administration has been doing for them, and Obama says unemployment is horrible because evil businessmen don’t want to hire anyone, preferring instead to unleash an army of soulless ATMs upon the hapless unemployed population.
None of that twaddle explains the growing ranks of the permanent unemployed, which Charles Krauthammer described. When the average time to find a job goes from five weeks to six months in a couple of years, it means a deadly stasis is settling into the market. Business creation and expansion is coming to a halt, leaving all the jobs held by a dwindling population of “employables.” Stasis on that scale cannot be explained by the stubborn refusal of hidebound managers to expand their payrolls, or an irrational loss of confidence among ignorant voters.
On the contrary, business owners and entrepreneurs have very legitimate reasons to be afraid of an Administration that finds a new enemy in the private sector every week, and sees businesses as tools used by the government to redistribute wealth. A skilled and determined class warrior doesn’t need that much red tape to strangle the economy.