- The Washington Times - Friday, August 31, 2012

For 23 million Americans without jobs, the Labor Day holiday is not a day off but just another day without work. It’s a fitting hash mark for the presidential campaign kickoff, reminding Americans of President Obama’s tragic failure to deliver.

In 2009, Mr. Obama promised to lower unemployment to 5.5 percent by 2012. It’s stuck at 8.3 percent. In his first budget, hopefully titled “A New Era of Responsibility,” he projected current growth in the gross domestic product would be a red-hot 6.3 percent. Instead, the country creeps along at a miserable 1.5 percent. One measure of the Obama administration’s desperation is Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis applauding the latest youth unemployment figures, which dipped all the way to 17.1 percent. When numbers that high make officials “excited,” you know things are terrible.

From the White House perspective, this isn’t all bad news. The Obama administration thinks unemployment actually can be healthy for the economy. Obama press secretary Jay Carney said last year that jobless benefits somehow boost consumption and “every place that, that money is spent has added business and that creates growth and income for businesses that leads them to decisions about jobs, more hiring.” By that confused illogic, Mr. Obama should be cheering the worst sustained unemployment rate since the Great Depression. Congratulations, that’s a heckuva job, Barack. Apparently, the president’s re-election slogan, “Forward,” actually means “Reverse.”

Labor Day also draws attention to the role of organized labor in American public life. A new Gallup survey shows 52 percent of the public approves of unions while 42 percent disapproves. A lot has changed since the 1950s, when old Big Labor — the United Auto Workers, the United Mine Workers, the Teamsters — had a 75 percent approval rating. Back then, workers built things. The new Big Labor — the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Service Employees International Union — represents the service sector and public employees. Their influence grows through securing sweetheart deals from governments populated with the politicians they helped elect. Eventually, the cost of these deals becomes too great for states and municipalities to sustain. Even with these jurisdictions on the brink of bankruptcy, the unions refuse to give on any aspect of their plush compensation packages. Their answer is always the same: Raise taxes and fees; do anything it takes to extract more money from the public to keep alive the government golden goose.

Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker was among the first elected officials to dare to reject this state of affairs. The reforms he pioneered limited the collective-bargaining power of public-sector unions and ended mandatory union dues payments. He faced incessant protests from union rent-a-mobs and denunciation from liberals who never give a second’s thought to producing a budget in balance. He not only saw his plan enacted, he survived a union-backed recall election — and now a state that was facing a $3.6 billion budget deficit is projected to have a $154 million surplus. Mr. Walker’s stand was the most heroic since President Reagan fired more than 11,000 members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization who illegally declared a strike in August 1981.

For Americans who are fortunate enough to have jobs, Labor Day is a time to relax with family and friends and enjoy the fruits of their hard work. For the millions still looking for employment or who have given up their search in frustration, it is just another bummer Obama day.

The Washington Times

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