Obama's Jobs Campaign: Politics as Usual
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- President Obama is on the campaign trail to sell his economic program directly to voters -- over the head of a reluctant Congress. He says it's all about jobs, but it's just politics as usual.
The economic recovery has been painfully slow. Through last fall, growth was only 2.1% and has since slowed to about half that pace.
Concerned about the durability of the expansion and pending ObamaCare mandate to fund heath insurance for full-time employees, businesses are replacing full-time workers with part timers. Since January, 833,000 additional Americans have reported working part time, while 97,000 fewer say they have full-time positions.
The president wants more infrastructure spending, publically funded pre-kindergarten education and a higher minimum wage. Those things, however, will not substantially change the unemployment picture.Improvements to roads and other public facilities are sorely needed, but too many federal dollars are spent on materials from China, which often excludes U.S. products from its projects. The United States would be within its World Trade Organization rights to keep more of that money at home, but Obama refuses. Whatever the benefits, funding pre-K with higher taxes steals jobs from other industries, or requires more borrowing. And no one ever created a job by raising the cost of hiring workers. Inadequate demand for what Americans make remains the primary drag on growth. Consumers are spending again and housing prices are recovering, but since the recovery began, imports and the trade deficit have zoomed. China, Japan and Germany -- the three largest economies after the United States -- pursue cheap currencies and other protectionist strategies to amass trade surpluses with the United States, and prop up employment at the expense of American workers. Along with imported oil, the $540 billion trade gap costs Americans about 8 million jobs -- enough jobs to drive unemployment down to 5%. Economists across the political spectrum have offered approaches for addressing mercantilism, but Obama remains dismissive. Lifting restrictions on petroleum development offshore and in Alaska, more intense use of natural gas in freight transportation, and accelerating the adoption of hybrids and more fuel-efficient internal combustion vehicles would erase dependence on imported oil.
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