- The Washington Times - Monday, August 8, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The national news media’s incomprehensible cheerleading aside, what the July numbers painted was a jobs picture where thousands of discouraged workers are dropping out of the work force because it is getting harder than ever to find a job in President Obama’s America.

Let’s get realistic here: An economy that produced only 117,000 jobs last month, after a scant 46,000 jobs in June, is running at a subpar performance level.

“The economy must add 13.7 million jobs over the next three years - 382,000 each month - to bring unemployment down to 6 percent. Considering layoffs at state and local governments and likely federal spending cuts, the private-sector jobs must increase at least 400,000 a month to accomplish that goal,” reports University of Maryland business economist Peter Morici in his analysis Friday.

To bring the unemployment rate down to that level, the economy needs to grow “in the range of 4 to 5 percent … over the next several years,” Mr. Morici says. The economy in the first half of the third year of Mr. Obama’s remedial presidency was growing at less than 1 percent.

“Jobs creation remains weak, because temporary tax cuts, stimulus spending and large federal deficits do not address structural problems holding back dynamic growth and jobs,” he adds.

Even The Washington Post cautioned that the July job numbers “are nothing to exult over,” and were “not enough to push the jobless rate down substantially over time.”

While the unemployment rate barely moved from 9.2 percent to 9.1 percent last month, it was largely because of 193,000 Americans who last month stopped looking for work and just dropped out of the job market in frustration. That means they are no longer counted among the unemployed and thus drive down the overall jobless rate.

The result is that the “proportion of the population working actually fell to 58.1 percent, its lowest level since the early 1980s,” writes Washington Post economics reporter Neil Irwin.

So not only have Mr. Obama’s economic and fiscal policies weakened the economy - which virtually stopped growing in the first quarter of this year, then barely grew by 1.3 percent from April to June - he has shrunk the labor pool. That’s quite an achievement.

Let’s not overlook the underemployment rate - the hard-working people forced to take part-time work, if they can find it, because no full-time jobs are available. Their numbers barely budged last week.

Few if any economists expect the nation’s unemployment rate will fall significantly this year or next under Mr. Obama’s anti-growth policies. This is an economy awash in fear and uncertainty, largely created by the president and his policies.

Will employers large and small face higher tax rates that will cut their bottom line in 2012 and beyond? Mr. Obama wants to end the 2001 Bush tax rate cuts - raising George W. Bush’s 35 percent top rate to nearly 40 percent - and those cuts will expire automatically at the end of 2012 if he has anything to say about it.

Remember, Mr. Obama was pushing higher taxes throughout the first half of this year when, according to his own Commerce Department, the economy was barely growing, businesses were struggling just to keep their head above water and jobs were in short supply.

Employers won’t hire and consumers won’t spend when they fear the government is going to take a larger share of their income and hurt the jobs market in the process.

For the past 2 1/2 years now, Mr. Obama has tried spending the economy into prosperity with a nearly $1 trillion stimulus bill that was a dismal failure. Then came another spending binge with his cash for clunkers, cash for energy savers, cash for jobs and cash for the climate-change businesses, all of which produced few if any jobs, but rewarded his party’s special interests and expanded the size and cost of the government.

“Weak jobs data indicate the economic recovery remains in low gear, and policies other than big deficits and printing money are needed to get Americans back to work,” Mr. Morici says.

What America needs right now is a strong, permanent dose of venture capital investment to unleash the animal spirits of the largest economy in the world. That means cleansing the tax code of special-interest corporate welfare to boost tax revenue, slashing the top tax rate to 28 percent that existed under President Ronald Reagan, and cutting the 15 percent capital gains tax rate in half. Then watch this economy take off.

Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and former chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.

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