Sunday, August 15, 2010

Not that anyone who has been paying attention needs reminding, but the problem isn't, as Bob Herbert writes, that Obama didn't make employment a top priority, it is that Obama has no clue and thus did things that were actually counter-productive to people getting jobs.

Let's start with Obama's belief (one shared by most on the left) that government can 'create' jobs. Other than government jobs themselves, government can not create jobs. Private employers create jobs. The best government can do is to promote economic, regulatory and social policies that lead to businesses being confident enough to add to their work force.

And that is what didn't happen. Instead of minimizing the economic troubles, which would have resulted in a whole lot fewer people losing their jobs, Obama trumpeted and exaggerated the problems, first to win election and then to justify his policies.

He followed that up with condemning and scapegoating the entire free market when, at worst, the problems should have been attributed to certain segments and slices. According to Obama, pretty much every employer was guilty of screwing people and causing the economic disruption. Every Wall Street firm was guilty, when in fact, it was only certain desks at certain firms that caused the problems. It seemed Obama felt every employer was guilty of abusing their workers and screwing their customers.

So instead of targeting enforcement and regulatory changes on the margins, where the problems were, Obama subjected the entire private economy to new rules, regulations, costs and uncertainty. And, to no surprise, the private economy responded by cutting staff and holding off on new hiring and making new investments. And consumers, at least those not employed by the government, held off making new purchases... all because Obama had scared the living daylights out of them.

And because Obama doesn't know what he doesn't know, he is guaranteed to do more of the same. He'll argue for more government spending, he'll push for more regulations and restrictions on business, he'll argue for more and higher taxes.

It's like pouring gasoline on a fire, you get a bigger fire. And in this case, a bigger fire is more economic problems.