- - Thursday, July 19, 2012

Last week, we were treated to one of the biggest con jobs in this political season. Vice President Joseph R. Biden took the NAACP back to Jackson, Miss., and lynchings and even said that the same Supreme Court that approved Obamacare would become racist under Mitt Romney. Whoa, that’s breathtaking overreach and dishonesty, even for Mr. Biden. But it does open some interesting questions.

The most important question is whether Mr. Obama has been a good president for minorities and the poor. The answer, as many in the NAACP meeting knew very well, is a resounding no.

Mr. Obama’s economic policies essentially have declared war on the poorest class in America. Unemployment and poverty rates have skyrocketed, in lockstep, among black Americans. The calculus is straightforward. Growing poverty is linked to lack of jobs. The stimulus bill, the green jobs programs and the promised jobs from Obamacare all have failed. It is not about George W. Bush, the Tea Party or the Republican Congress: Those programs were put in place when the Democrats controlled both sides of Capitol Hill and the White House. The president got exactly what he wanted, and he owns this economy. His economic policies have failed miserably.

Some liberal economists, such as Paul Krugman, have argued that still more stimulus spending is needed to solve the problem, and the NAACP applauds this idea. But if you have spent nearly $1 trillion on “shovel ready” public-works programs and the unemployment rate has gone up and is staying up, your program has not and will not work and the poor will only suffer more — much more — from four more years under Mr. Obama.

Moreover, if you also have spent another trillion dollars on “alternative,” “renewable,” “clean,” “green” energy and you have not dented energy economics enough to make any of these competitive with traditional energy sources, then you have failed to address future energy problems, and you have created no jobs.

As many small-business owners and most economists have determined, Obamacare is killing hundreds of thousands of jobs. Mr. Romney made this case to the NAACP, and its members did not listen. Perhaps they should have.

Wasting public money on poorly planned infrastructure projects and energy and health care schemes diverts needed capital, discourages private investment and growth, and creates the need for more taxes, the smell of which alone kills any private investment in real job creation.

But, of course, the president’s “jobs program” is not really about creating jobs — it is only about helping the president keep his job.

All of this is the equation for growing inequality. It sustains high unemployment, which multiplies poverty. The number on welfare and unemployment has skyrocketed under Mr. Obama. It discourages youths, especially minorities, who cannot find real jobs.

The illusion that taxing the rich will solve the problem is nonsense. Targeting the rich for higher taxes would raise perhaps $50 billion more in tax revenue (not denting the $15 trillion debt under Mr. Obama) and make sure no small-business owner invests in new job-creating companies. The Obama proposal to raise taxes on dividends and capital gains further assures no new job-creating investment.

Need I point out that Mr. Obama is spending most of his time soliciting campaign money from Wall Street and the “1 percent,” not minorities? It is Wall Street that got the goodies during his first term (big profits, large bonuses) not the poor and minorities. Not one Wall Street banker went to jail or even was prosecuted under Mr. Obama. Does anyone really think the second term will be any different? Mr. Obama has never had time for the NAACP, but he has attended many Wall Street fundraisers. Mr. Obama knows he has the black American vote in his pocket.

It is time for the NAACP to wake up and get serious. This is not the 1960s. Cheering for Mr. Biden’s race-baiting nonsense is buying the cynical strategy Democrats have used to con blacks for years. Automatic dismissal of Mr. Romney and Republicans is shortsighted for any minorities who really hope to see an improved economy lead to jobs and renewal of their neighborhoods, opportunities for them and their children, and a real strengthening of the America they live in and fight for.

This was a wasted NAACP convention, demeaned by the Biden speech. It did not lead to the advancement of black Americans. In fact, quite the opposite, if you’d care to look at the statistics. On the other hand, the opportunity the NAACP, and the broader black American community, has today is historical. They fought hard for their vote; they should make it count. There needs to be an honest debate on who actually will give minorities and the poor the best America for them in the future.

Minorities should overwhelmingly support the candidate they honestly believe can deliver what Mr. Biden calls the most important three-letter word in America: “jobs.”

Grady Means is a businessman, former assistant to Vice President Nelson Rockefeller and former economist at the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare.