The President’s Jobs Speech


Last night the President gave a speech.  In it, he described what his plan to help our economy is.  In my opinion, he needed to accomplish several critical items.

  • The speech would HAVE to represent something new.

The nation has grown weary of the same language and same ideas that this administration has pout forth to date.  What Obama is sellin’, no one is buyin’.  No one believes that spending more and more money that we don’t have on programs like roads-bridges, schools and hospitals is the answer to our nation’s problems.  I think that we knew this back when.  Back when Obama first recommended this strategy.  We simultaneously knew AND hoped.  It’s why none of us are very surprised that we are today where we were 3 years ago.

  • The speech would HAVE to create the feeling that the administration was willing to compromise with the Republicans.

Since the day he’s taken office, think “The Office Of The President Elect” bullshit, Obama has made it clear that he will do it his way.  He’s commented that “I won” during negotiations.  His actions, and quite frankly his naiveté, have demonstrated that if he only uses more words and passion, he’ll succeed in swaying his opposition.  Personally I suspect that this is what him positions of prestige in the worlds in which he has lived.  In the Halls of Ivy I feel that rhetoric and Grand Ideals are the coin of the realm.  Not actions and results.

Thoughts, not measurable metrics, are what these men trade on.

  • The speech would HAVE to energize America and Americans.

It didn’t.  It was a yawner.  Everything from the “Pass it Right Away” nonsense to the worn out “pay their fair share” nonsense, the feeling was an overwhelming, “been there, done that” take away.  This didn’t move the soul.  This speech didn’t reach into the heavens and grab you just right there.  This speech was more of a lecture.  Something that you wanted to be over, not hear more of.

For the first time, Obama’s skill in oration failed him.  If I didn’t know better, it was as if even he didn’t believe it.

Rather than be any of these things, it was none of them.  He didn’t present anything new, bi-partisan or energizing.  You could have taken random 35 second clips from any of his other speeches, strung ’em together for 34 minutes and done just as well – even better.  At least during those speeches, Obama himself believed what he was saying.

The facts are this:

  1. Government trades in power.  No government can invest appropriately because too many people owe other people money and favors.  True free acts of investment can not be made.
  2. Government doesn’t earn anything.  If the government would like to invest in segment A of the economy, it must first confiscate from segment B of the economy.  And it sucks at even that.  It’s less than a 1 – 1 shift.
  3. The wealthy pay more than their “fair share”.  The wealthy pay more of a share of the tax than they earn as a share of the income.  In fact, there are net “earners” of the Federal Income Tax system.
  4. We already allocate money for roads and bridges.  We tax such things as we think are necessary to care for repairs and new build outs.  Why we need to allocate NEW money for the is beyond me.
  5. It is not the role of the Federal Government to build schools.  THAT is the role of the individual school boards.

This speech failed.  It failed to provide new ideas, failed to provide any hope of bi-partisan agreement and it failed to energize even the giver of the speech.

I’ll leave you with this detail.  Obama implored lawmakers to “pass it right away”.  Yet he couldn’t be bothered to present anyone with the bill itself, saying only that he would deliver something a week from Monday.

Indeed.

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5 comments
  1. I obviously had a very different reaction to the speech, but to your points:

    1. Historically governments are the ONLY actors that can invest effectively in infrastructure and education. Infrastructure is almost always a collective good. That means that while it’s in everyone’s interest to see it built, it isn’t in any one person or company’s interest to spend what it takes to do it. That’s why democratic governments are empowered by the people to take care of roads, police protection, etc.

    2. Not sure what you mean. Governments tax based on representation, and spend to promote the general welfare. Taxation with representation is enshrined in the constitution, it is American. Calling it confiscation shows disrespect for the basic rules of the Constitution. Remember the example Obama gave of Lincoln and the intercontinental railroad? Or maybe Jefferson and the Lewis and Clark expedition? Without government actions the US would not have developed into the great country it became.

    3. What is “fair” in a democracy is obviously an open question. The wealthy in the US are wealthier than in any other country (not true when you get down to the middle class). In the last 30 years as debt increased dramatically the wealthiest 1% earned 291% more income, the top 20% 95% more, the bottom 60% didn’t even keep up with inflation. Meanwhile, to deal with the crisis, our wealthiest — who pay less taxes than in any other industrialized state while we have the least equal income distribution in the industrialized world — are only being asked to have some loopholes closed. No one is threatening massive increases, not even up to Reagan era levels. If they don’t, then the poor and the middle class — who haven’t benefited (and in fact most have had to go to two incomes to stay even) overall — pay the price while those who have benefited get off without having to pay anything. Fair? Well, I hope the Democrats make an impassioned argument that it’s not and the public agrees. We’ll see.

    4. Our infrastructure is falling apart, including roads and bridges, as well as schools. The fact is other countries are investing in transportation, infrastructure and education way beyond us. We’re literally in decline as a country, and in terms of our infrastructure. Educationally we’re getting towards the bottom of the industrialized world based on PISA tests (given to 15 year olds). We need to turn that around; otherwise, our children will see their past like the British now see theirs — once they were a great power.

    5. The federal government can and should help places who can’t afford to build new schools or infrastructure do this. Otherwise, wealthy suburbs have great schools, poor rural regions get lousy schools. But whether or not that’s the role of the federal government depends, of course, on what the voters decide.

    I think this was a speech that will help Obama lay out the stark choices before the country for the coming election. We have opinions, but the American people decide what is the “right” answer at any given point in time.

  2. Alan Scott said:

    Infrastructure is not an end unto itself. We all remember the bridge to nowhere. In the cost benefit analysis, public infrastructure has to be cost effective. The throw money at it approach 2 years ago failed.

    Let’s talk about private ‘ Infrastructure ‘. The kind Obama and his minions hate . When Private money does infrastructure, like a pipeline or a freaking gas well, they are betting their own money. Unlike politicians who spend other people’s money and if it turns out bad, oh well. Our fearless leader has stood in the way of private infrastructure. We know these projects will actually create jobs because they have a track record. And unlike public infrastructure these do not require public money and will pay taxes back to the treasury.

    Oil and gas wells and coal mines are long term capital projects, the glorious infrastructure . They are the magic bullet that will save the economy. Well at least they are not a misfire, like Porkulus was.

  3. I don’t think anybody hates private infrastructure development, and “minions” sounds like a word from one of the action cartoons my eight year old watches. I mean “minions”??? Private infrastructure is focused in industries with huge profits. Public monies build roads, sidewalks, fund police forces, fire departments, build schools, electric plants, airports, bridges, etc. Oil, gas and coal will not “save” the economy. How could they? They don’t employ that many people and deal in global commodities. Your prose gets a bit grandiose — minions or ‘our fearless leader’ (sounds like the Rocky and Bullwinkle show). That’s sort of silly.

  4. Alan Scott said:

    Scott,

    Rocky and Bullwinkle, Exactly the way I meant it. I am very pleased that anyone gets my jokes. Nothing on it’s own will save the economy, neither will infrastructure spending. Obama inc, keeps looking for the magic bullet, the one thing that will turn around the economy. Oil gas and coal will go a lot further towards righting the Obama ship than a bunch of deficit spending on infrastructure . Not that deficit infrastructure is always bad or never works. It is just that ‘ now ‘ after stimulus 1 failed we need private capital spending. Energy production, I mean real energy production, not Solyndra type crony capitalism energy non production, is very capital intensive. It is also profitable. That is a good thing. Profits are a good indication that capital is being utilized efficiently.

    Anyway to get back to oil, gas, and coal. Along with high taxes and high food prices, high energy prices cost the economy jobs. Not to mention, jobs lost because dollars go out of the country to our good friends at OPEC. Domestic oil, gas, and coal production lower energy prices and so in the words of our fearless leader, they create or save millions of jobs.

    Obama does not even have to spend any money to get this boost from domestic energy companies . He just has to stop putting up road blocks. He has to stop pandering to his global warming base and all will be well. Not that I expect any of this. He has chosen the path with his jobs speech of shifting the blame, and pandering .

  5. I do not think a new stimulus is a good idea if it raises the deficit. I do think the debt to GDP ratio has become too high. I think there are hopes for natural gas finds and coal, but those are long term investments at this point, not likely to add much in the way of jobs in the short term. Even a lot of Republicans have found things in this jobs bill they like. The President purposefully avoiding calling for a huge tax hike and stimulus like the left wing of his party wants because he wants something that can pass — and nothing can pass without Republican support. I’m not sure what you mean by shifting the blame or pandering. All politicians do stuff like that a lot (it’s always more the other sides’ fault), but his speech seemed pretty straight forward to me. But I like Obama and you don’t, and that probably colors how we read it.

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