KNIGHT: Obama’s jobs machine

Milk taxpayers and - poof - you get new workers

How does paying people notto work constitute a key element of a “jobs bill”? President Obama’s goofy, gimmicky American Jobs Act, which even the Harry Reid-led Senate rejected Wednesday and the adult-led House regards with head-shaking bemusement, would throw another $447 billion “stimulus” at the economy and extend unemployment benefits for another year.

Pass it now. Pass it now. It worked so well last time.

The answer to the question above is that it makes perfect sense within Mr. Obama’s worldview that government activity in itself “creates jobs.” So when government as middleman shifts money from people who have jobs to those who don’t, it reduces unemployment. Got that? Never mind that stubborn unemployment rate, which won’t sink below 9.1 percent no matter how many Obama-inspired demonstrators occupy Wall Street.

This is not a commentary, by the way, on how and when governments should assist people down on their luck. Many have been hit hard by this awful economy. But under the principle of subsidiarity, the federal government is dead last in the list of entities responsible for people’s well-being, with the family at the top, followed by church, community, local governments, etc. That’s the way things work best.

Most Americans believe in at least some safety net for the poorest of the poor, but few think that adding people to the dole is a positive development. The exception, of course, is the unwashed masses trying to overthrow capitalism. They are demanding that everything be free, all the time, for everybody. Then there are the Democrats, who, out of compassion, work to create ever-more poor people to vote for them and name buildings after them.

But, as I said, this column is not about that. It’s about the administration’s odd views about job creation.

In August, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack actually claimed on MSNBC that record increases in food stamps (we’re above 45 million people and counting) are an economic engine: “You have to recognize that it’s also an economic stimulus. Every dollar of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits generates $1.84 in the economy in terms of economic activity. If people are able to buy a little more in the grocery store, someone has to stock it, package it, shelve it, process it, ship it. All of those are jobs. It’s the most direct stimulus you can get in the economy during these tough times.”

If that’s the case, why not issue food stamps to 100 million people, or even 200 million? Imagine all the shelf-stocking jobs.

The Department of Agriculture’s website boasts, “We help put healthy food on the table for over 40 million people each month.”

You out there still foolishly buying your own groceries - come join us!

No, it doesn’t say that last line, but in the Food Stamps Make America Stronger Outreach Toolkit, Page 4 shows a gallon of milk and a hunk of government cheese with a large headline:

“How to milk this toolkit for all it’s worth!”

If you’re a taxpayer, have you felt “milked” lately? I know I have.

During Jimmy Carter’s presidency, as the economy tanked, people were steadily added to the food stamp rolls, with an estimated 17.8 million in December 1978 to 18.9 million in February 1979, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Mr. Jimmy, like Mr. Obama, was creating all sorts of jobs. The program cost just $7.4 billion in fiscal 1980. The current annual tab for food stamps is more than $85 billion.

Apart from getting more people on food stamps, where else has the administration triumphed in its quest to create jobs? Why, by imposing more regulations in a shorter time than any administration in history.

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