Why would anyone believe Obama will focus on jobs in a second term?
posted at 11:06 am on October 18, 2012 by Howard Portnoy
The first questioner in the second presidential debate on Tuesday was a 20-year-old college student who noted the grim employment picture in the nation, then asked Mitt Romney, “What can you say to reassure me, but more importantly my parents, that I will be able to sufficiently support myself after I graduate?”
Romney’s answer, which mentioned keeping student loan indebtedness down, was short on specifics. But President Obama answer’s, when his turn came around, was short on facts. “What I want to do,” he said, “is build on the five million jobs that we’ve created over the last 30 months in the private sector alone.” Even if you accept Obama’s absurdly fanciful job numbers, the net effect is an average 166,000 jobs a month, which is far short of the $254,000 jobs needed per month for 5 years just to reach pre-recession levels of unemployment.
Obama speaks in hushed, almost reverent terms of his desire to create “not just jobs” but “good paying jobs—ones that can support a family” during his second term. But addressing unemployment was not a priority when he took office four years ago, so why should anyone believe it will be if he is re-elected? Sure, he passed a record $825 billion stimulus plan that contained 40 years’ worth of congressional earmarks as a gesture toward growing the economy. But then he immediately turned his back on job creation to devote the next year and a half to fighting for passage of a “universal healthcare bill.” After that he expended another year of political capital trying to sell the unpopular law to an unwilling nation.
Yet his wish list of ideas for “fundamentally transforming the United States of America” contains many unchecked items that would become his focus in a second term, during which he would work on “his legacy.” There is comprehensive immigration reform, which he promised to tackle in his first year. A solution for our broken immigration system has bipartisan support among lawmakers, but Obama’s plan gives indifferent attention to stopping the flow of illegal immigrants across the Mexican border.
There is implementation of Obama’s “civilian army.” Should this term fail to ring a bell, here is what candidate Obama said in 2008:
We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded. [Emphasis added]
There is his as-yet unmet goal of doubling U.S. spending on foreign aid to $50 billion a year to “help the world’s weakest states to build democratic institutions, foster healthy and educated communities, reduce poverty and generate wealth.” Never mind that he has drastically increased the number of Americans living below the poverty line in his first four years.
There is Obama’s unresolved yearning to pass cap-and-trade legislation, the “goal” of which would be “to make fossil fuels [aka “dirty energy”] more expensive, which will make new technologies competitive with them.” Why should anyone debt that given a second bite at the apple, Obama—who has already squandered $50 in green stimulus—would jump back on this bandwagon?
There is the goal he articulated at the G20 summit in 2011 of leveling “the playing field” internationally by making sure that no country—including (especially?) the U.S.—has “an unfair advantage” in the global marketplace. The goal seems of a piece with Obama’s view of American exceptionalism, which he summed up thus at NATO Summit in Strasbourg, France, in 2009:
I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.
One last promise floated recently is that given another term, Obama will continue “to campaign” to sell his ideas to the American people. That promise makes perfect sense considering he hasn’t stopped campaigning since his election in 2008.
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