Among the most frequently heard criticisms by Democrats about President George W. Bush and the pre-2006 Republican majorities in the House and Senate was that corporations were being coddled even while they were sending American jobs overseas. Then President Barack Obama proposed his $787 billion economic stimulus program and promised that it would bring unemployment down to 8 percent or less while saving or creating up to 3.5 million jobs.
It is nearly three years later, and the official unemployment rate is still above 9 percent (and could be double that when those who quit looking for work or are underemployed are counted). The media increasingly are full of headlines for stories about hundreds of millions of tax dollars being wasted in stimulus program scandals, most notably the $537 million Solyndra bankruptcy.
Two more such scandals appeared this week, but these latest outrages feature a new wrinkle — stimulus funds being used to create jobs for foreign workers. In the first example, the Obama administration handed $7.2 million to four Oregon logging companies to hire loggers in a severely depressed industry. But according to a Department of Labor inspector general’s report, only two jobs thus funded went to U.S. citizens: “Only two Oregonians were listed on the employer recruitment reports, indicating that workers in Oregon were likely unaware these job opportunities were available. In fact, although 146 U.S. workers were contacted by the employers regarding possible employment, none were hired. Instead, 254 foreign workers were brought into the country for these jobs.”
In the second new stimulus program scandal this week, the Obama administration gave electric carmaker Fisker Car Company a $529 million loan guarantee to build vehicles in the U.S. At the time, Vice President Joe Biden claimed “this is seed money that will return back to the American consumer in billions and billions and billions of dollars in good new jobs.” But the rest of the story came out this week when Fisker officials acknowledged that most of the jobs being created are actually in Finland. Allegedly they couldn’t find a suitable assembly facility here in the U.S., despite the fact Detroit is the birthplace of the automotive industry, virtually every major manufacturer from around the world has put factories in this country, and there are thousands of unemployed auto workers here. Administration officials approved the transfer of jobs to Finland.
Something else came out this week: Public confidence in President Obama’s handling of the economy has hit a new low amid growing expectations that the chief executive will be a one-term president. “Obama’s standing with the public is weakest on the economy and in his efforts to tackle unemployment, with about six in 10 disapproving of his handling of both,” reported the Associated Press’ Jim Kuhnhenn of the news service’s most recent public opinion survey.