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A strong case for reform, just not the one he thinks he was making.

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The Obama Jobs Speech

A strong case for reform, just not the one he thinks he was making.

 

President Obama’s sixteenth pivot to job creation was a weird speech right from the start:

Tonight we meet at an urgent time for our country. We continue to face an economic crisis that has left millions of our neighbors jobless, and a political crisis that has made things worse.

“Political crisis?”  What does he mean by that?  He can’t possibly mean spirited opposition to his agenda by the duly elected opposition, can he?  Was he under the impression he was a dictator?

This past week, reporters have been asking “What will this speech mean for the President? What will it mean for Congress? How will it affect their polls, and the next election?”

Yes, it’s all about him.  America has been holding its collective breath, wondering how this magnificent speech will affect the destiny of the mighty Obama, and the millions of little people drawn through history in his wake.  At what point does Congress, the Supreme Court, or someone else in authority set this man up for the mental and emotional counseling he so obviously needs?

But the millions of Americans who are watching right now: they don’t care about politics. They have real life concerns. Many have spent months looking for work. Others are doing their best just to scrape by – giving up nights out with the family to save on gas or make the mortgage; postponing retirement to send a kid to college.

And others take lavish vacations in Martha’s Vineyard, blow millions of taxpayer dollars on their own leisure, and stick those poor working-class chumps with the bill for their coast-to-coast political junkets.  Watch – he’s about to do it again, as he embarks on a national tour to repeat this same torpid speech to semi-conscious crowds across the fruited plain!  Seriously, Congress: isn’t there any way to stop him from seizing our money to fund his re-election campaign?  Even if it’s impossible to make him stay at the office and do his job, we can at least require him to finance his own junkets.

These men and women grew up with faith in an America where hard work and responsibility paid off. They believed in a country where everyone gets a fair shake and does their fair share – where if you stepped up, did your job, and were loyal to your company, that loyalty would be rewarded with a decent salary and good benefits; maybe a raise once in awhile. If you did the right thing, you could make it in America.

Not that Barack Obama himself would know anything about that, having never held a job, made a payroll, earned a promotion, or otherwise participated in the private sector.  But he’s heard stories of how all that stuff works, and brother, he feels your pain.

But for decades now, Americans have watched that compact erode. They have seen the deck too often stacked against them. And they know that Washington hasn’t always put their interests first.

Under Obama things have improved dramatically.  Washington certainly puts some people’s interests first.  Look at Solyndra, or the union bosses who didn’t want Boeing to open a production line in South Carolina!

The people of this country work hard to meet their responsibilities. The question tonight is whether we’ll meet ours. The question is whether, in the face of an ongoing national crisis, we can stop the political circus and actually do something to help the economy; whether we can restore some of the fairness and security that has defined this nation since our beginning.

Yes, it’s time to cut out that “circus” of asking where all the money from the last “stimulus” went, or why Obama won’t pull the reins on his job-killing agencies, or why repeating the same failed approach should work any differently this time.  It’s time to obey, people. 

Another few trillion in debt piled onto our children should bring us lasting financial security!  No, it’s not “unfair” to drop massive burdens on people who are still in diapers, and therefore cannot object.  There you go with the circus act again!

Obama went on to plow through the same old list of government controls and spending proposals, with the majority of the dough targeted at his good friends in the unions – teachers’ unions and construction workers’ unions in particular.  A lot of that money goes back to Democrats through political donations, so they’d really appreciate your unquestioning acceptance of these proposals.

Of course we got plenty of the same ideas that have been failing consistently for years: more unemployment benefits, extend Obama’s payroll tax cut, plenty of class warfare rhetoric about “the most fortunate” who can “best afford” to give Obama more of their money, and even the standard ritual invocation of Warren Buffett, the paragon of fair-share-paying, who just happens to owe a billion dollars in back taxes. 

You’ll be relieved to know Abraham Lincoln got name-checked, too.  It just wouldn’t be an Obama speech if he got left out.

Our old straw-man friends came back with Honest Abe to pay a visit.  If you think Obama’s insane spending binges have something to do with our skyrocketing national debt, you’re a maniac who wants to “wipe out the basic protections that Americans have counted on for decades.”  Oppose the crushing regulatory burden churned out by the President’s agencies, and you want “people to choose between their jobs and their safety.”  Criticize the agenda of his union and radical environmentalist allies, and you’re “in a race to the bottom, where we try to offer the cheapest labor and the worst pollution standards.”

The President actually celebrated American dependency on the dying Social Security and Medicare programs, asking tearfully, “What kind of country would this be if this Chamber had voted down Social Security or Medicare just because it violated some rigid idea about what government could or could not do? How many Americans would have suffered as a result?”  It’s about time we had some “rigid ideas about what government could or could not do” for a change, because we’re sick to death of hearing people like Obama spout rigid ideas about what we can and cannot do.

There was the classic Obama ignorance of how job creation works, as he dished out proposals based on the idea that tossing businesses a few little credits and incentives will induce them to hire people for positions that don’t exist.  Obama’s belief that these little crumbs come anywhere near outweighing the burden he dumped on employers with his disastrous health-care scheme is something he should discuss with that mental health professional, once he gets an appointment.  If he really wants to build “security” for the future, repealing the ObamaCare nightmare tomorrow is the essential first step. 

Naturally there was no acceptance of responsibility by President Zero Growth, no mention of the countless expensive “green jobs” failures he is responsible for, no accounting for the vast amount of money he’s already squandered.  As always with Obama speeches, the past is somebody else’s prologue.

The cost of his marvelous American Jobs Act has been increasing every time someone mentioned it.  It was $300 billion last week.  Then it was $350 billion.  I heard a news report describe it as a $400 billion plan earlier today.  Given the way Obama cost estimates usually work out, we can probably go ahead and just round it up to the nearest trillion.

Running through the President’s proposals is his enduring faith in the superior wisdom of government.  For example, here’s one of his ideas for rewarding proper behavior with a tax credit:

Pass this jobs bill, and companies will get extra tax credits if they hire America’s veterans. We ask these men and women to leave their careers, leave their families, and risk their lives to fight for our country. The last thing they should have to do is fight for a job when they come home.

I’m all in favor of hiring veterans, but what kind of nonsense is that?  “The last thing they should have to do is fight for a job when they come home?”  What those veterans make their incredible sacrifices to defend is freedom, which involves choice, including the choice of who to hire.  That means veterans compete with everybody else for jobs – something they are very capable of doing, with honorable service proudly listed on their resumes.  Those who choose to hire non-veterans should not be hit with an extra surtax, which is the inverse consequence of handing out tax credits for certain government-approved hires.

The first thing returning veterans should do is fight for jobs – and there should be plenty of jobs out there to be won.  Lifting the boot of Obama’s bloated government off the private sector is the best thing politicians can do to improve that situation, rather than creating more subsidies and penalties to enforce even more control over the private sector.

In a similar vein, Obama proposes handing out lollipops if business owners will help him reduce the shameful long-term unemployment problem he has created:

Pass this jobs bill, and companies will get a $4,000 tax credit if they hire anyone who has spent more than six months looking for a job. We have to do more to help the long-term unemployed in their search for work.

Wasn’t he just talking about “fairness” earlier in the speech?  How is it “fair” to highly qualified people who recently lost their jobs, to offer a $4,000 taxpayer-funded bounty to employers who pass them over for less qualified applicants who happen to have been unemployed longer?  One more time, for the liberty-impaired: private businesses are not welfare programs.  They do not exist to dispense jobs to the deserving.  They hire people in the pursuit of opportunity and profit.

Obama did, unwittingly, make a powerful case for fundamental reform:

Pass this jobs bill, and we can put people to work rebuilding America. Everyone here knows that we have badly decaying roads and bridges all over this country. Our highways are clogged with traffic. Our skies are the most congested in the world.

This is inexcusable. Building a world-class transportation system is part of what made us an economic superpower. And now we’re going to sit back and watch China build newer airports and faster railroads? At a time when millions of unemployed construction workers could build them right here in America?

There are private construction companies all across America just waiting to get to work. There’s a bridge that needs repair between Ohio and Kentucky that’s on one of the busiest trucking routes in North America. A public transit project in Houston that will help clear up one of the worst areas of traffic in the country. And there are schools throughout this country that desperately need renovating. How can we expect our kids to do their best in places that are literally falling apart? This is America. Every child deserves a great school – and we can give it to them, if we act now.

The American Jobs Act will repair and modernize at least 35,000 schools. It will put people to work right now fixing roofs and windows; installing science labs and high-speed internet in classrooms all across this country.

Obama already grabbed a trillion dollars for “infrastructure.”  How can we still have all this decay and devastation?  Where did all that money go?  Why didn’t that bridge between Ohio and Kentucky get fixed last time?  Shouldn’t Obama, his cabinet, his cronies, and the recipients of his lavish “stimulus” grants be answering those questions under oath?

Furthermore, we’ve plowed incredible amounts of money into the Department of Education and the NEA.  Per-pupil expenditures have doubled since the Seventies, even as educational performance cratered.  American spending per student is among the highest in the world – as of 2011, only Switzerland spends more – while our students perform far worse than countries that spend far less.  The ratio of students to teachers has been falling for decades. 

And yet, not only does Obama’s new “jobs bill” call for throwing fresh billions at the teachers’ unions, he also whined repeatedly about the urgent need for job retraining.  His speech tonight made one of the most compelling cases in recent memory for the dissolution of public unions and the Department of Education.  It is long past time education was taken away from Democrats, and given to the private sector – which demands results in exchange for investment, rather than delivering gassy speeches to demand more money for the failures it refuses to acknowledge.

 

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Written By

John Hayward began his blogging career as a guest writer at Hot Air under the pen name "Doctor Zero," producing a collection of essays entitled Doctor Zero: Year One. He is a great admirer of free-market thinkers such as Arthur Laffer, Milton Friedman, and Thomas Sowell. He writes both political and cultural commentary, including book and movie reviews. An avid fan of horror and fantasy fiction, he has produced an e-book collection of short horror stories entitled Persistent Dread. John is a former staff writer for Human Events. He is a regular guest on the Rusty Humphries radio show, and has appeared on numerous other local and national radio programs, including G. Gordon Liddy, BattleLine, and Dennis Miller.

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