The federal government on Friday reported that fewer jobs were added to the American economy in August than in any month since World War II. Although economists had predicted that 75,000 jobs would be created in August, it turns out the net job gain was exactly zero.
Labor Day has always been associated with Big Labor, and thus, with the political Left. But at its core, Labor Day is about celebrating the American worker. And, as the August job numbers showed once again, it is the American worker who has been hurt most by the Obama administration’s jobs-killing, growth-stifling agenda.
In announcing President Obama’s upcoming jobs speech, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, “The President is focused on the urgent need to create jobs and grow our economy, so he welcomes the opportunity to address a joint session of Congress … and challenge our nation’s leaders to start focusing 100% of their attention on doing whatever they can to help the American people.”
In his speech, Obama will doubtless lecture congressional Republicans about putting “country ahead of party.” But for Obama, job creation is a secondary priority to pursing his progressive agenda and satisfying his political allies.
Big Labor has been one of Obama’s greatest political allies. “So I owe those unions,” Obama wrote candidly in The Audacity of Hope about the support he received from service workers unions during his U.S. Senate run. “When their leaders call, I do my best to call them back right away. I don’t consider this corrupting in any way; I don’t mind feeling obligated toward [unions].”
Obama’s obligation toward unions explains why he lashed out at Wisconsin Republicans as they tried to reform their public state employees’ collective-bargaining rights, which he labeled an “assault” on workers’ rights.
And it helps explain why the Obama-appointed National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) filed a complaint against airplane manufacturer Boeing for opening a factory in the right-to-work state of South Carolina.
The NLRB claims discrimination against unionized workers in Washington State, where Boeing initially explored building its factory. If the NLRB wins the court battle, it would effectively forbid companies with plants in union states from building new plants in right-to-work states, and prompt more companies to set up shop outside the U.S.
But the Obama administration has found numerous other ways to hinder the job creation the President claims he urgently desires. The Obama Justice Department recently sued AT&T to try to block its bid to acquire rival T-Mobile, thus blocking a deal that AT&T says would bring thousands of jobs back from overseas. (Amazingly, the unions involved have endorsed the merger.)
Meanwhile, the biggest priority of the Obama Labor Department is not job creation for American citizens but overseeing agreements with other countries that give illegal immigrants to the U.S. the same rights as legal U.S. citizens.
Obama’s regulatory agenda is also stifling job creation. The federal government has enacted hundreds of new regulations, everything from requiring fast-food restaurants to make new signs that include calorie information to hundreds of new environmental regulations.
According to the Manufacturers Alliance, the Environmental Protection Agency’s new ozone regulations could cost as many as 7.3 million jobs.
During his upcoming speech, Obama may call for another stimulus. The first stimulus included more than $7 billion for “clean tech” jobs. And according to the EPA, two years later that money has created a paltry 7,140 jobs.
One of those companies is Solyndra, a solar-panel manufacturer that through the stimulus received more than half a billion dollars in loans from the Department of Energy. It recently announced it will file for bankruptcy, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill, and that it will lay off its more than 1,000 workers.
An August, 31 Gallup poll found that three in 10 workers worry they could lose their jobs. They are right to be concerned. The unemployment rate persists at 9.1%, 14 million Americans want to work but cannot.
Many of the jobs losses, and much of the anxiety, are the result of policies rooted in the Obama administration’s belief that government can do a better job than private industry of creating jobs and building wealth.
Recently in Wisconsin (where else?), the Marathon County Labor Council announced that Republican lawmakers would be barred from taking part in its local Labor Day parade. The ban was payback against state Republicans who earlier this year passed legislation weakening the collective-bargaining power of public employee unions.
The coalition of unions eventually reversed its decision after unfavorable national media attention. But the episode reinforced what so-called progressives hold as an article of faith: that the GOP is anti-worker.
But given the Obama administration’s tendency to prioritize its progressive agenda over job creation, perhaps it’s the Democrats who should be forgoing this year’s parade.