Empire State Building construction workers
While on vacation on the upscale Martha's Vineyard in August, President Obama announced that he would present a unique solution to the ailing economy when he comes back to Washington. He kept the entire nation in anticipation and many Americans wondered why they had to wait till September to hear what the President, who would have enjoyed his vacation a bit longer if it were not for the hurricane Irene, had to say.
The President wanted to unveil his jobs' proposal before the joint session of Congress on September 7 - the day of the GOP primary debate in the Reagan Library in California. This request was declined by the Speaker of the House because the White House did not follow the scheduling protocol. A concurrent vote is required by both chambers of the Congress, but the White House simply ignored this rule. We also learned that the President had no intention to divert the attention from the Republican primaries. Of course not! Who would accuse the President of such a thing?! It was "pure" coincidence.
It must also be mentioned here that the joined sessions of Congress are held on special occasions such as the State of the Union Address, presidential inauguration, or a declaration of war. A President does not tell the Congress to meet. He places a request. Mr Obama who is an expert in Constitutional law should have known that.
The congressional address was postponed to the next day, September 8 - the opening day of the NFL season. The Green Bay Packers were to take on the New Orleans Saints.
It might seem ridiculous, but football is the number one sport in the USA and more people are expected to watch the opening game on NBC than any presidential speech televised across all the TV networks taken together. Much passion and and even much more money is involved here, but the White House appeared to be oblivious of the fact. Suddenly, the jobs' proposal had unexpected urgency. It was so urgent that it could not be proposed in August while the President was vacationing, but it could not possibly wait another day in September.
The much anticipated job proposal turned out to be yet another speech - a badly written, uninspiring, repetitive campaign speech in which the President was trying to save at least one job - his own.
The speech could have been delivered from the Oval Office, but if it were, it would have lacked all the ego-stimulating applause that the President received from the Democrats who appeared to be completely mesmerized by the "pass this plan" refrain.
President Obama assured the Congress that his proposal contained elements that were attractive to the Congress members on both sides of the aisle and was fully paid for. The Republicans were more than happy to hear that the President wanted to help war veterans to find jobs after they return to their civilian lives.
The President did not elucidate, however, how exactly he was going to pay for the bill, but we can expect that the money will be either borrowed, printed, or taken away from the millionaires and billionaires.
The entire package that includes tax breaks for individuals and small businesses will cost $447 billion. And all this after the Congress spent months negotiating government spending cuts.
While some economists believe that the plan, if enacted, would stimulate the economic growth by 2% and create some two million additional jobs, others are skeptical as the proposal does not include any structural changes. Jobs are badly needed in the USA, but the temporary tax rebates do not really stimulate the economic growth. A thorough tax reform is needed, but the Democrats prefer to impose higher taxes on the wealthy. Not a smart move in today's economy.
Obama's sincerity may be tested against the treatment the real job creators receive on daily basis. Simply take an example of an American icon, the Boeing company, who is prohibited from opening its new assembly line in South Carolina. How about the red tape and over-regulation in the oil drilling industry? How about mistreatment of companies such as Gibson Guitar that "sympathize" with the Republican Party? How about the raw milk industry?
Since many people were watching the NFL season opening game, most missed the greatest hypocrisy of all, namely the presence of Mr Jeffrey Immelt, the chairman of GE and head of the President's Jobs Council, in the first lady's box in the House chamber during the President's address. Many people in America are probably unaware of the fact that Mr Immelt moved the GE X-ray division together with thousands of American jobs to China and came up with an ingenious plan to invest two billion dollars across that Asian country. A real American job creator! It is absolutely scandalous that this man is even allowed to preside over the Jobs Council.
The Congress did not even see the bill and yet, the President made it clear that he wanted his proposal passed. He warned the Republicans that they would be blamed for the misery of countless unemployed Americans if they refused to pass his American jobs agenda. He warned that he would be taking this matter to the American people. A desperate move for a President whose job approval ratings fell below 40 percent while he was playing golf on Martha's Vineyard.
Although the ideological gap between the Republicans and the Democrats is ever widening, the Republicans announced their willingness to work with the President. Few even admitted that some of the presented ideas merit consideration, but they collectively refused to accept another ruinous stimulus.
Meanwhile, the unemployment remains exceptionally high and the economy is stagnating. The President who accuses the Republicans, but never the Democrats, of intransigence, is fighting for his political survival. However, the post-World War II history shows that the American people never re-elected presidents when the unemployment rate exceeded 7,2% during their first term.
Mr Obama is frantic and his urgency was clearly detectable in the speech he delivered before the Congress. His speech left the careful listener with an uneasy feeling that the only job the President really cared for was his own.
By Dominique Allmon © 2011
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