- The Washington Times - Friday, July 9, 2010

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The Obama administration has declared “Recovery Summer,” basically an ad campaign claiming wondrous job-creation results for $1 trillion or soin stimulus funding. Even more impressive, however, are the steps the administration has taken to destroy jobs at the very time it claims to be focused on their creation. And if we consider the sorts of jobs under attack by the administration, it’s clear there is method to the mayhem.

Many thousands of existing jobs have been killed, and many thousands more that could be created are instead being aborted. In all instances, the ramifications go beyond the jobs themselves; the administration’s actions will have broad consequences for our nation’s economy and global standing.

The energy sector illustrates the point. Take nuclear power. We could reduce our dependence on energy produced by unfriendly countries and slash the carbon footprint of our power-production industry if we built 50 or so nuclear power plants. In the process, we could regain our past position as a global leader in the field while creating jobs for engineers, architects, those in construction trades and power-plant operators. This is not happening on President Obama’s watch for many reasons, including the cancellation of the Yucca Mountain storage facility for spent nuclear fuel. The administration’s Yucca Mountain cancellation was held unlawful earlier this summer by a panel of judges; we’ll see whether the Obama regime will let respect for the law stand in the way of its plans.

Now, with the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, Mr. Obama has moved smartly and unlawfully to kill thousands of additional jobs. His inaction in the face of an environmental catastrophe has left the economy of the Gulf Coast region reeling. And he has compounded the economic damage by imposing a drilling ban not only considered unnecessary and excessive by a panel of experts asked to review the decision, but also held to be “arbitrary and capricious” by a federal court. Job losses in the South are estimated to be as high as 200,000 or more.

The destructive drilling ban in the Gulf is complemented by similar measures in Alaska with respect to accessible oil and natural gas resources. In March, the administration canceled planned offshore lease sales, and in May, it announced the suspension of proposed exploratory drilling in the Arctic Ocean. More ominous are the administration’s denial of a permit critical to a carefully crafted plan for oil development in the National Petroleum Reserve and what appear to be steps toward permanently blocking oil and gas production in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. These and similar projects could create thousands more jobs while reducing our reliance on foreign oil.

The job-killing actions in Alaska and the Gulf are matched by Mr. Obama’s announcement on halting Virginia’s offshore oil drilling plans, at a cost of more jobs. Likewise, the administration has failed to enable the exploitation of our vast natural-gas reserves in the continental United States. Nor has the administration taken steps to facilitate the construction of additional oil-refining capacity. Moreover, the administration is implementing environmental regulations that will kill coal-related jobs in West Virginia and elsewhere.

It’s as if the president has declared war on energy independence.

The energy sector is hardly the only example. There’s Mr. Obama’s takeover of the student loan industry and his failure to act on imminent tax increases. Moreover, an administration genuinely interested in economic recovery and job creation would be facilitating entry by the sorts of immigrants we need and want - e.g., scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and professionals sought after by major companies that would create jobs around them. But immigrants of this sort are not a presidential priority.

All of these job-killing actions are complemented by an assault on private investment and entrepreneurial risk-taking through myriad new and higher taxes, more onerous regulations, Obamacare costs and penalties and other measures that are deterring investment by the private enterprises that should drive a recovery. Small businesses will fail; new ones will not replace them. Larger companies are hoarding their cash while looking for opportunities to put it to work in more hospitable places outside the United States.

Shall we connect the dots? All across the economy, money is being sucked out of the private sector and pumped into the public sector. Government and union employees are the new nomenklatura, ensconced in more secure and higher-paying but less productive jobs than their counterparts in private business.

The administration’s decisions are based on what strengthens Democrats politically, not what works to strengthen the economy.

Ray Hartwell is a Navy veteran and a Washington lawyer.

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