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LAMBRO: Obama’s useless ‘to-do’ list

Recycling rejected ideas won’t distract voters from failed economy

- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 10, 2012

President Obama sent a warmed-over five-point "to-do" list to Congress this week that he said will create jobs and spur growth. There was nothing new in any of the points. He's offered these ideas before, but Congress rejected all of them.

In a gimmicky performance before an audience at the State University of New York at Albany, Mr. Obama unveiled his plan on two large flat-screen television monitors in the form of a green Post-it note with five unchecked boxes next to the proposals.

It was a desperate, hastily slapped together video show in the wake of last week's bleak unemployment report, which showed few jobs were being created and the Obama economy was slowing down - again.

The stock market was tanking, sharply reducing workers' retirement savings. Foreclosures were still at severe levels. The real unemployment rate was at 18 percent, including the unemployed, underemployed in temporary jobs and 3 million discouraged workers who have stopped looking for work.

The frustrated president said he'd offer new ideas to deal with the jobless crisis, and his advisers came up with the Post-it-note gimmick to portray Congress as an obstructionist body that was blocking his efforts to get the economy growing again.

Did the White House truly believe Congress was going to take this plate of leftovers seriously?

Three years and four months into his presidency, with little more than six months remaining before the election, Mr. Obama is without a plan to put America back to work, without an agenda for the next four years or any fresh plan of action for economic growth.

His Post-It-note gambit served as a pathetic symbol of the emptiness of his ideas to deal with a $15 trillion economy.

He is still offering small proposals for a big problem. Obstructionism on Capitol Hill is not his problem. It's his economic policies and the deepening uncertainty that has infected the business community that has stymied investment and growth.

One of the bromides on his Post-it note would give a 10 percent income tax cut to small businesses that create new jobs or give workers pay raises.

He offered this idea early in his presidency, when the economy was struggling to climb out of the recession and businesses had few if any resources to hire anyone, let alone raise wages.

Cash-strapped employers could not hire any more workers until they saw more business coming through the door. But Mr. Obama's advisers never understood that simple rule of cost control and cash flow.

Only someone who had never run a business or spent time with people who had run one would propose such a silly, illogical idea. Even members of his party shook their heads in disbelief.

But the idea defined the core of Obamanomics: Do what we tell you to do, no matter what your financial problems are, and we will give you a tax cut.

All of this has led to the fourth year of Mr. Obama's remedial presidency, when we are struggling with a weak economy, high unemployment, declining wages, severe gas prices and fewer job opportunities to get ahead.

The Gallup Poll this week reported that 32 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds in the American workforce said they were underemployed (in temp jobs or low-paying counter work) in April.

Unemployment among young adults rose to 13.6 percent in April, up from 12.5 percent in March, the same level that it was in April 2011, Gallup said.

Other surveys say about half of all college graduates cannot find full-time jobs commensurate with their skill and educational levels.

But Mr. Obama isn't dealing with any of these economic problems, as his dismissive little Post-it note makes abundantly clear. If you haven't noticed, he isn't talking about them, either.

And he has nothing to say about the monster debt and trillion-dollar budget deficits he has rung up on his watch, nor has he made any mention about the looming insolvency of Social Security and Medicare.

Instead, he is running a campaign by talking about special-interest-group issues, hoping to piece together enough voter blocs to squeeze into a second term. Interest rates on student loans is the topic to win back the youth vote that has soured on him. More recently, same-sex marriages is intended to appeal to the gay community and its supporters on that issue.

He's cherry-picking single-issue interest groups in the hope of skirting the bread-and-butter economic issues his handlers know are losers for him politically.

But while he can run from his economic record, he cannot hide from it because his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, is pounding him every day on the one issue that is going to decide this election.

Notably, the former governor has begun comparing Mr. Obama's failed record to Bill Clinton's pro-growth and pro-jobs agenda: expanding export markets with free-trade agreements and cutting capital gains taxes to boost investment in emerging new technologies.

It's a lethal comparison. The unemployment rate under Mr. Clinton fell to 4 percent, versus the official 8.1 percent rate under Mr. Obama.

Mr. Obama's failed economic agenda comes right out of the ancient New Deal era of public works spending that didn't work then and isn't working now. "His are the policies of the past," Mr. Romney said in Lansing, Mich., this week.

"Looking backward won't solve the problems of today, nor will it take advantage of the opportunities of tomorrow," he said.

The past versus the future. That's what this election is going to be all about.

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

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