LEE’S SUMMIT, September 9, 2011 – The President of the United States spoke for 34 minutes last night in front of a Joint Session of Congress, outlining his long awaited jobs plan. The Whitehouse put out a bullet point of the content of the speech tonight that details President Barack Obama’s economic proposals, which would take effect next year if passed by Congress:
- The payroll tax would be cut in half on the first $5 million of businesses’ payrolls. The measure would cover 98 percent of U.S. businesses.
- Payroll taxes for businesses firms that increase their payrolls by adding new workers or increasing average wages would be eliminated. (The benefit would be capped at the first $50 million in payroll increases.)
- Payroll taxes would be cut in half for 160 million workers.
- New tax credits of $5,600 to $9,600 to encourage the hiring of unemployed veterans.
- Renovation of 35,000 public schools with new science labs, Internet-ready classrooms and other upgrades.
- Increased spending on roads, rail, airports and waterways.
A “Project Rebuild” program to people to work rehabilitating homes, businesses and communities.
- An extension of unemployment insurance for 5 million more Americans.
- A $4,000 tax credit for companies that hire long-term unemployed workers.
- A new government fund to expand job opportunities for low-income youth and adults.
The president made the point during the speech that “But know this: the next election is fourteen months away. And the people who sent us here – the people who hired us to work for them – they don’t have the luxury of waiting fourteen months. Some of them are living week to week; paycheck to paycheck; even day to day. They need help, and they need it now.”
What I don’t understand about that statement is that the unemployment rate has been over 8% since he took office, and over 9% for most of his presidency. In his January 2010 State of the Union speech President Obama said “One year later, the worst of the (economic) storm has passed. But the devastation remains… Jobs must be our number-one focus in 2010.” So the urgency was felt in January of 2010; but no jobs came after the “shovel ready” jobs stimulus was to take effect.
In fact, he told Jeff Immelt and the Jobs Council on June 13, 2011 that “Shovel-ready was not as … uh .. shovel-ready as we expected.” It is a comment that brought not only the expected reaction from the conservatives, but also from the Huffington Post, and from NBC’s Chris Matthews when he said “It’s not funny to joke about shovel-ready jobs not actually being ready.”
In his speech tonight he talks about renovation of 35,000 public schools; are those jobs that will be ready by January?
The president said, “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.” Why should we believe that these jobs are going to be any more shovel-ready than the last group was? If not, will his focus be on removing the roadblocks, or regaining the presidency in 2012?
Throughout the speech the President asked seventeen (17) times, in various forms, for congress to “Pass this jobs bill” but the fact of the matter is that there is no bill; that does not come till next week. Yet in several places in the speech his asks for congress to pass it right away; but pass what?
In March of 2010, during the run up to the Health Care Bill commonly known as ObamaCare, then speaker Pelosi said during a speech “We have to pass the bill so you can see what’s in it” so I guess, based on the urgency created by two years of laser-like focus on shovel-ready jobs, the president wants Congress to pass a bill that he did not even write himself.
If you think I’m exaggerating to make a point, here are the president’s words: “This idea came from a bill written by a Texas Republican and a Massachusetts Democrat. “ I don’t know if this is truly a repeat of past speeches, or past attempts to solve the problem, or if this is truly America’s Groundhog Day.
Personally, I find this speech to diametrically opposed to the realities of the Obama Administration. The current activities of the EPA, Fish and Wild Life, the Lacey Act of 1900 amended in 2008, and the impact it had on Gibson Guitar – raided twice (November 2009, and again on August 24, 2011) for suspicion of illegally importing wood. The Wall Street Journal quoted Leonard Krause, who tells clients on how to comply with the Lacey Act that “The net effect is that it raises everybody’s cost of doing business” and in this economy it means loss of jobs.
So on the one hand we have the words of the State of the Union in 2010, then in 2011, and now the American Jobs Act speech. On the other hand we have a regulatory environment that is discouraging job creation (EPA and the Fish and Wild Life on Gibson and the NLRB forbidding Boing from putting jobs in North Carolina).
One thing I know for certain, the economy is in terrible shape and words alone won’t fix it.
The Lee’s Summit Conservative