|Meet the New Obama, Same as the Old Obama|
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, February 10 2011
It made for quite a spectacle: President Obama instructing an audience of struggling entrepreneurs and employers to just start hiring and stop conserving their cash.
Gee, why didn’t they think of that?
Barack Obama has never owned a company in his life. He has never faced bankruptcy for a family business built over decades. He has never navigated the Byzantine maze of regulations, taxes, lawsuits, insurance costs and other risks that multiply with every new permanent employee.
Yet there he was this week, lecturing a Chamber of Commerce audience that he somehow knows their daily experience:
“I understand the challenges you face. I understand you are under incredible pressure to cut costs and keep your margins up. I understand the significance of your obligations to your shareholders and the pressures that are created by quarterly reports. I get it.”
Obama stopped short of explaining how his experience organizing Chicago grievance communities and perpetually running for one political office after another enabled him to “get it.”
Nevertheless, he managed to sink even deeper into absurdity from there. In what appeared to be an attempt to resurrect John F. Kennedy’s inspiring “Ask Not” inaugural, he essentially admonished business owners large and small to ask not what they can do to survive amid an economic environment that his own policies are disrupting, but what they can do to assist his reelection agenda:
“But I want to be clear. Even as we make America the best place on Earth to do business, businesses also have a responsibility to America… As we work with you to make America a better place to do business, ask yourselves what you can do for America. Ask yourselves what you can do to hire American workers, to support the American economy and to invest in this nation.”
“As we make America the best place on Earth to do business?” Just last month, the annual Index of Economic Freedom dropped the United States from “Free” to “Mostly Free” in its worldwide ranking. Due to Obama’s own enlargement of government spending, borrowing and regulation, we are losing ground in that competition, not advancing.
And Mr. President, it would do the American economy no good for businesses to simply hire new workers they cannot afford, and whom your own policies have made less affordable. Just this week, a Gallup poll showed that the primary reason businesses aren’t hiring more is that “they are worried they won’t have sales or revenues to justify more employees.” The Gallup report added, “This is followed by worries about their future cash flows and whether they will have money to make payroll. Third is their concern that they can’t find employees who are qualified for the positions available. Finally, half of owners say they are worried about the potential cost of healthcare.”
But the broader danger once again revealed by Obama’s speech is that he still doesn’t get it. Every time the media nods in collective agreement that Obama is brilliantly “triangulating,” or even locating his inner Reagan (we’re not making this up), he unleashes a torrent of illogic and platitude that reveals a troubling disconnect from everyday reality and the policies that might actually unleash a vigorous recovery.
For example, Obama’s bizarre notion that struggling businesses just arbitrarily decide whether or not to hire new employees, at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars, resembles his theory that the federal government can simply pluck idle dollars from thin air and “stimulate” the economy. Meanwhile, two years after his massive “stimulus” bill, unemployment remains at or above 9% for a post-World War II record 21st consecutive month, the government announced a record $1.5 trillion deficit this year and gross domestic product growth remains weak.
Or consider his comment to the Chamber that, “I’ve promised to veto any bill larded up with earmarks.” Well, he made the same solemn promise during his presidential campaign, then signed a monstrous spending bill saturated with earmarks during his first weeks in office.
Of course, Obama’s “hire more people, right now” harangue came just one day after telling a worldwide audience in a pre-Super Bowl interview with Bill O’Reilly that, “I didn’t raise taxes once. I lowered taxes over the last two years.” Well, yes, if you ignore his new taxes on everything from tanning beds to medical device manufacturers to pharmaceutical companies to health insurers to Medicare payroll taxes on families.
Regardless of whether one supports reelection for Obama in 2012, his strange speech justifies concern. It signifies that he simply isn’t learning after two years of reckless spending, borrowing and regulation that only discouraged economic recovery.
America will continue to suffer unless and until he does.
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