LAMBRO: Jobs are not Job One for Obama

President fires jobs council as unemployment rises

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The jobless rate has risen to nearly 8 percent, economic growth has screeched to a halt, and there’s grumbling among President Obama’s most loyal voters about 14 percent black unemployment.

Mr. Obama swung into action last week to deal with it. He shut down his jobs council, an advisory group of top business people, labor leaders and other political cronies, with whom he rarely met during the group’s two years of existence.

Then Alan Krueger, chairman of Mr. Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, issued an incomprehensible, Orwellian statement, saying that the increase in unemployment was “further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to heal from the wounds inflicted by the worst downturn since the Great Depression.”

Huh? Earth to Mr. Krueger, come in please. We do not read you. Say that again.

Mr. Obama’s executive decision to fire the business leaders on the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness — at a time when jobs are in short supply — was right out of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” in which the Queen of Hearts was frequently given to declaring “Off with their heads” when anyone displeased her.

Jay Carney, the president’s oily spokesman, insisted that “the work of the jobs council was very valuable” but added, “While the president didn’t agree with all of its recommendations, he agreed with many of them and acted on a number of them.”

That is not the way many on Capitol Hill saw Mr. Obama’s distant relationship with this underused council, which was put together during the 2011-12 election cycle to show that the president was doing something about unemployment when he really wasn’t doing anything at all.

“The president treated his jobs council as more of a nuisance than a vehicle to spur job creation,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican.

The council was window dressing from the start, and no substitute for economic growth policies to unlock venture capital investment, risk-taking, business formation and faster job creation.

Heading into the fifth year of his presidency, the hike in the annual unemployment rate to 7.9 percent was a cold shower for the administration and, especially, its allies in the news media. “At some point you begin to ask if we are ever going to have a real recovery,” Stephen Gandel, Fortune magazine’s senior editor, writes on the CNN Money website.

The puny number of jobs being created under Mr. Obama’s impotent economic policies “translates to a [future] job gain of about 125,000 jobs a month. That’s basically just enough to provide jobs for the number of people entering the workforce each month. Not much extra for the unemployed,” he writes.

While unemployed Americans were digesting the dreary job numbers Friday, scholars for the African American Economic Summit were meeting at Howard University to discuss the dismal circumstances facing the beleaguered black community.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that last month’s black unemployment rate stood at 13.8 percent, and there was little expectation that things were going to get better anytime soon, especially with Mr. Obama in the White House.

“As bleak as the economic picture is for black Americans, the immediate prospects for improving it are worse, many participants said,” writes The Washington Post’s Michael Fletcher.

Unfortunately, this is not the group where any answers are going to be found to deal with the economic plight of jobless blacks. One after another, the participants blamed racism for their community’s economic woes, or called for larger and more costly public jobs programs. “We are basically talking about an economic system that is shot through with discrimination,” said Bernard Anderson, a former assistant secretary of labor.

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About the Author
Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is the chief political correspondent for The Washington Times, the author of five books and a nationally syndicated columnist. His twice-weekly United Feature Syndicate column appears in newspapers across the country, including The Washington Times. He received the Warren Brookes Award For Excellence In Journalism in 1995 and in that same year was the host and co-writer of ...

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