- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 7, 2010

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Old maps of the world showed unexplored areas as amorphous blobs, identified only by their potential dangers: “Here be dragons.”

In this economy, you can identify the most robust area of employment growth - the government sector - the same way: “Here be jobs.” As far as the private sector goes, it’s “There be dragons.”

The March jobs report showed the nation’s formal unemployment rate holding steady at 9.7 percent, although the total unemployment rate, which includes everyone who has given up looking for work or is working part time while desiring full-time work, has sailed over 20 percent. March did show the largest payroll gain since 2007, which should be good news. The problem is that one-third of those new hires were for the government - and temporary. Hiring for the census accounted for a good part of that jobs number, and those jobs will disappear once the census is completed in a few months.

The bigger point is that government is not a jobs creator. It’s a jobs killer. The bigger government becomes, the more resources it sucks out of the private economy and its ability to generate real job creation - the kind of job creation that begets more job creation and the kind of job creation that generates real wealth for the individual, the community and the country. As long as government keeps growing, blowing through trillions of dollars in old entitlements while requiring trillions more in new entitlements and smothering private enterprise with new regulations and tax burdens, force-multiplying job creation cannot occur.

Of course, for the Democrats, this is precisely the point. Since President Obama entered office, they purposely have tried to suppress the free market while expanding the public sector in the name of “creating jobs.” Exhibit A: the $862 billion economic “stimulus,” which, according to Mr. Obama, was supposed to keep unemployment to 8 percent. How? By creating a vast number of public-sector jobs. It created some of those, but not nearly enough to contain the jobless rate. Pretty soon, our public sector is going to look a lot like the ones that ran the show in the communist world.

For the American people, jobs matter most. Not health care, cap and trade, illegal immigration, education or any of the other issues President Obama has indicated he’s teeing up next. When someone doesn’t have a job, those issues are far, far down the list of priorities. Yet Mr. Obama and the congressional Democrats have spent the first 14 months of his presidency off in the weeds, concerned more with scratching progressivism’s 40-year itches than putting the American people back to work.

Job loss has a way of focusing the mind, and Americans see that the majority party has been obsessed with the political re-engineering of the country to the exclusion of the urgent employment crisis. The Democrats have been engaged in breathtaking acts of political selfishness.

The American people get it, which is why they’ve been socking it to the Democrats in recent polls. A CBS News poll released late last week shows Mr. Obama with a record-low job approval, 44 percent, weighed down by voters’ dissatisfaction with his handling of the economy and health care. Just 42 percent approve of his management of the economy, and a stunningly low 34 percent approve of how he has dealt with health care. (So much for the “10-point” poll bounce former President Bill Clinton predicted Mr. Obama would enjoy “the moment health care reform” was signed.) Further, 84 percent describe the economy as “still in bad condition,” and 60 percent say they are “very” or “somewhat” concerned about losing their jobs.

A CNN/Opinion Research poll, also released late last week, shows that 48 percent think Republicans would “do a better job” on the economy, beating the Democrats by three points. This was a reversal from a CNN poll from August, which showed Democrats beating Republicans on the economy by 13 points. In last week’s poll, a whopping 78 percent described the economy as being in either “very poor” or “somewhat poor” condition.

The biggest danger for the Democrats is that their single-minded focus on health care has reinforced the perception that their primary objective is to expand government exponentially. And the purpose of that is to expand the base of people dependent on the ever-growing government in order to create a permanent Democratic majority. Job creation doesn’t fit into the equation, unless it’s publicly bankrolled and in the public sector. In fact, more Americans are realizing that keeping the unemployment rate high fits right into this strategy by keeping folks on the jobless rolls until the benefits run out and then transferring them to other government social welfare programs.

Memo to Mr. Obama and the Democrats: We’re on to you. Instead of giving us a map to real, sustainable job creation, you have pointed to your beloved all-powerful state and said, “Here be jobs.” In November, we’ll hang a sign on the ballot box for you: “Here be dragons.”

Monica Crowley is a nationally syndicated radio host, a panelist on “The McLaughlin Group” and a Fox News contributor.

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