Where are the Jobs?
Here's the end of Robert Samuelson's column today:
Obama can't be fairly blamed for most job losses, which stemmed from a crisis predating his election. But he has made a bad situation somewhat worse. His unwillingness to advance trade agreements (notably, with Colombia and South Korea) has hurt exports. The hostility to oil and gas drilling penalizes one source of domestic investment spending. More important, the decision to press controversial proposals (health care, climate change) was bound to increase uncertainty and undermine confidence. Some firms are postponing spending projects "until there is more clarity," Zandi notes. Others are put off by anti-business rhetoric. The recovery's vigor will determine whether unemployment declines rapidly or stays stubbornly high, and the recovery's vigor depends heavily on private business. Obama declines to recognize conflicts among goals. Choices were made — and jobs weren't always Job One.
Is he serious? Unemployment is high because we don't have a trade agreement with South Korea and new oil fields haven't been opened up? To say that's tissue thin is to insult tissues everywhere. And suggesting that healthcare reform and "anti-business rhetoric" are slowing down the recovery hardly passes the laugh test either. Surely Samuelson could have invented something better than this if he was really that desperate to hang something on Obama?
If Samuelson really cared about job growth, he might have spared a word or three for Republicans in Congress, who have steadfastly refused to consider the kind of serious stimulus measures that might actually promote employment. But they stay oddly out of the picture. I wonder why?