For those who missed the president’s speech I will spare you the full transcript. The president’s plan basically consisted of 6 pillars. 1) The president called for a year-long extension of the payroll tax cut (for employees and employers) from 7.2%-5.2%. 2) Congress needs to pass patent reform (which they all but have). 3) Sixty-two billion dollars was proposed to aid states avoid laying off “teachers, policeman and firefighters.” 4) An additional $140 billion needs to be spent on infrastructure projects such as “repairing school roofs” and “improving access to the Internet.” 5) Extend unemployment benefits to the tune of over $100 billion for another year. 6) Finally, the president called for comprehensive tax reform.
Get past the spending and policy proposals and it becomes clear however this is two things. First, almost all these ideas have been tried before in various forms either from the GOP or Democrats. Second, this was a purely partisan speech. It was meant to gear up the president’s base for 2012. One might be asking him/herself how one comes to these conclusions? Afterall, the president finally put up some policy ideas. Isn’t that what Congress and detractors wanted?
The answer is no. New, fresh ideas were what opponents and Congress wanted. But the opposite was give. Look at the policies the president proposed. Consider that already 50 Republican house members have signed onto legislation sponsoring a measure similar to the president’s in the House. Patent reform has all but passed Congress. On state aid and infrastructure spending, was not the $900 billion Stimulus Package supposed to do the same? Many Americans seem to be getting to the point where they need but hate unemployment benefits. And contrary to Nancy Pelosi’s comment, “Unemployment benefits create jobs,” they surely do not. As for tax reform, that is not going to be done tomorrow. That is a year-long, if not longer, process that does need to start now but is unlikely to come soon enough to boost the economy in the short-term.
This speech was blatantly partisan. Only this president could fill a speech with so many straw men arguments and boogeyman and have the audacity to claim it was a “Jobs speech.” Consider that Obama called on Congress to pass everything. He left it up to Congress to find a way to off-set the debt from the new plan. He called on Congress to pass his plan (which is not even in writing yet) and stop opposing his policies, because apparently if you do, “Opponents want to deregulate everything.” I was unaware that opposing unchecked spending and massive bureaucracies that infringe on personal liberties was a form of “Deregulating everything.” This speech literally dripped of Trumanesque 1948 “The do nothing Congress” references.
Look at the way Obama used the Warren Buffet secretary example. I would consider it masterful if it was not so disgusting. Obama cited Warren Buffet’s secretary, who pays more in taxes than Buffett does. What Obama does not mention is that Buffet and he are on good terms and that Buffett basically puts all his assets and income in a untaxable trust. How come the president does not call for Buffett and his buddies, the ones who helped elect him, to stop doing so? Even as Obama was trying to fire liberals up he was trying to keep rich billionaire donors on his side for 2012.
This speech however was not notable for what it contained but rather what it did not. Obama spoke of businesses hiring once they got a pay-roll tax credit. Um no. Most liberals have even acknowledge this at one point or another in the last year. Businesses, small and large, aren’t not hiring because they lack cash, they are not hiring because they fear what new regulations will come down the pike when they hire a new employee. No paltry 2% tax credit to hire somebody new is going to off-set the massive cost of new regulations (estimated to be around 100 billion to 1 trillion dollars) on businesses in this country. The president completely missed his moment to keep his signature policies intact but promote a pragmatic way forward with new regulations and ease business owners valid concerns.
Then there is this to consider. Businesses that are hiring, that require expertise in a certain area, are not hiring unemployed workers with an expertise in that area. They are hiring from other companies. Those companies and businesses hiring from another and so on. Those unemployed with those jobs skills are not hired and long-term unemployed (6 months or more) face an even worse situation. The president’s plan would do little to address this issue. Perhaps why the unemployed had decidedly mixed views on the speech, regardless of political leanings?
Thirty five. Thirty five minutes. The length of the speech. The length of the same speech we have heard time and time again. Soaring rhetoric (to some) punctuated by the occasional already tried policy idea and numerous attacks on Congress, more specifically Congressional Republicans and apparently all the concerned American voters in this nation. Nevermind the president never hit on the true problem that is stalling hiring and that all his policies are either pending or have been tried before. No. This is something new. Something better. Or not.
P.S. Even more of the same has come from the president today. The whole act will be passed by levying new taxes on oil and gas companies, those making $250,000 and above as well as on private dividends.