When the November jobs report came out this week showing unemployment at 10 percent, we could have sworn we heard White House press secretary quietly humming “Happy Days are Here Again!” Officially, Robert Gibbs was more restrained, saying he thought “the numbers today show that we continue to make much-needed progress in getting this economy going again and in getting the right trend going in hiring.” But one look at the Obama administration’s agenda shows Gibbs’ boss is mainly interested in more government, not more jobs.
Take the stimulus. In January 2008, unemployment stood at 4.9 percent, so President George W. Bush felt inspired to work with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to pass a $168 billion economic stimulus bill. One year later, 3.5 million jobs had been lost, even as unemployment rose to 7.6 percent. So President Barack Obama pushed through a new $787 billion stimulus package, promising it would keep unemployment below 8 percent and “create or save” 3.5 million jobs. If Congress didn’t pass it, he warned, unemployment would rise to 9 percent by 2010. Those were the days.
Then there’s the job-killing cap-and-trade bill. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the GDP would grow more slowly under that scheme and jobs would be “adversely impacted.” In fact, the green jobs growth promised by the administration has been interminably slow in coming — a wind turbine plant in western Pennsylvania, for example, just announced it was laying off half its 280 workers, General Electric is closing a solar panel factory in Delaware, and Evergreen Solar, despite receiving aid to open a factory near Boston, is moving most of its assembly to China. Spain, whose widely reported efforts to create green jobs did little to improve its economy, saw unemployment reach 19 percent in September, the second highest in the European Union.
Obama also promised that his $2 billion “cash for clunkers” program would spur growth in the auto industry, but once the government spending spree ended, General Motors’ sales plunged 36 percent from August to September. Chrysler and Ford dropped 37 and 33 percent respectively.
If there’s an underlying theme here, it’s that private enterprise is still the incredible jobs-creation machine when left alone. But economic meltdowns, recessions and other unintended consequences ensure when the Big Brother economic engineering favored by Obama takes over. The time-tested remedies do not require a summit. Cut taxes, lower trade barriers, and let the American people do what they do best: Work hard, take risks, build small businesses into big ones, increase prosperity for everybody. What’s not to like about that?