Friday, September 9, 2011

What? That's your plan?

I guess if you possess less than an average helping of intelligence, or you are a product of the "No Child Left Behind" education system, you might be able to see something positive in the president's speech to Congress.

If, however, you are capable of critical thinking, you can't possibly be impressed with what you saw and heard last night.  I could elaborate, but I was sent a very succinct piece that does the job for me.

What's It Going To Take To Get You Into This Jobs Plan Today?
by Jim Geraghty

 As Tim Williams put it, "Obama's schtick is so tired and recycled, it's hard to come up with fresh smart-aleck comments."

I didn't think this was the worst speech Obama gave. It's not even that all of the ideas in it are all that terrible. It's just that they're reheated leftovers, reruns, small-ball initiatives that are likely to be as effective as every other stimulus program that repaves sidewalks or funds
research on exotic ants. We're a $14 trillion economy that makes everything from timber to jumbo jets to firearms to smart-phone apps to Hollywood movies to every food product under the sun. The notion that some grab bag of tax credits and federal grants is going to kick-start a hiring binge to put 14 million Americans back to work or that the economy is one tax credit for hiring veterans away from recovery is laughable.

The recession we've endured for the past three years is far from normal, and yet we keep getting the normal Keynesian responses. I realize I'm about to offer blasphemies and shockers on par with Rick Perry's Ponzi-scheme comparison, but what if Obama was wrong last night, and a big issue is that some of the people of this country do not, in fact, work hard to meet their responsibilities? What if decades of a lousy education system have left us with a workforce that has too many members with no really useful skills for a globalized economy? What if way too many college students majored in liberal arts and are entering the workforce looking for jobs that will never exist? What if the massive housing bubble got Americans to condition themselves to work in an economy that's never coming back? (How many realtors are unemployed right now?) What if we have good workers who can't move to take new jobs because they're underwater on their mortgages and can't sell their house?

Back in January, Chrystia Freeland wrote in
The Atlantic:
I heard a similar sentiment from the Taiwanese-born, 30-something CFO of a U.S. Internet company. A gentle, unpretentious man who went from public school to Harvard, he's nonetheless not terribly sympathetic to the complaints of the American middle class. "We demand a higher paycheck than the rest of the world," he told me. "So if you're going to demand 10 times the paycheck, you need to deliver 10 times the value. It sounds harsh, but maybe people in the middle class need to decide to take a pay cut.
It does sound harsh. But there's an unnerving, honest question in there: How many Americans can argue that we indisputably provide the best value as an employee compared to any other group of workers in the world? Are we still the smartest? Are we still the hardest-working? Are we still the most innovative?

Instead, last night we were assured that
"tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires" were preventing us from "put[ting] teachers back to work so our kids can graduate ready for college and good jobs." Sigh. As Michael Barone scored it, "Straw men took a terrible beating from the president."

A lot of people liked this
succinct Yuval Levin assessment: "Spend $450 billion dollars now, it will create jobs, and I'll tell you how I'm going to pay for it a week from Monday. If you disagree, you want to expose kids to mercury. That about sums up the Obama years."

It sounds as if Obama hit John Tabin's last nerve:
"[T]he millions of Americans who are watching right now: they don't care about politics," said President Obama near the beginning of his speech before Congress tonight. Nice little delusion, but people who don't care about politics weren't watching. And the speech wasn't for them, anyway. This was a sop to the disillusioned liberals who complain in op-eds and blog posts that Obama just needs to get more aggressive in pushing for policies that they imagine will reinvigorate the economy. Politically, it was a move to rally a base that is rather depressed at the moment, and it might work somewhat. But the spectacle of demanding an audience from Congress for such a speech was utterly absurd.
The AP fact checker more or less stomped on one of Obama's key points:
Obama did not spell out exactly how he would pay for the measures contained in his nearly $450 billion American Jobs Act, but said he would send his proposed specifics in a week to the new congressional super-committee charged with finding budget savings. White House aides suggested that new deficit spending in the near-term to try to promote job creation would be paid for in the future -- the "out years," in legislative jargon -- but they did not specify what would be cut or what revenues they would use.

Essentially, the jobs plan is an IOU from a president and lawmakers who may not even be in office down the road when the bills come due. Today's Congress cannot bind a later one for future spending. A future Congress could simply reverse it. . . .

There is no guarantee that programs that clearly will increase annual deficits in the near term will be paid for in the long term.
Finally, note that Patrick Ruffini boasts that he skipped Obama's speech, deeming it "irrelevant."

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