Geez, he’s good. What next? Barack Obama has already taken unilateral steps to reform the student loan program, and his campaign has also targeted millennials with the Greater Together initiative. But just in case all that is not enough to secure the youth vote Obama knows he’ll need, the president today announced a public-private partnership to provide 180,000 summer job opportunities to low-income youth. The AP reports:

The White House says that with help from the private sector it’s gotten commitments for nearly 180,000 youth employment opportunities for next summer and is aiming for tens of thousands more.

Obama says that with young people facing record unemployment the government must do everything it can to make sure they have opportunities to learn skills and a work ethic.

So, what’s the catch? Don’t we want teens to learn “skills and a work ethic”? What’s so bad about the federal government goading private businesses into handing out work opportunities to teens?

Mostly, the problem lies in the president’s willingness to take credit for what he has not done. According to NewsBusters, most of these jobs are not jobs at all. That is, the majority are unpaid. Nothing is wrong with that; unpaid internships are a valuable way to gain work experience to up employability in the future. But for the president to tout those unpaid internships as “jobs” is disingenuous.

Then, too, as Republicans like House Speaker John Boehner have pointed out, plenty of these positions would exist regardless of whether the president took any interest in them. But the president has taken in interest in them, for the same reason he has taken an interest in — oh, I don’t know — recess appointing partisan hacks to the National Labor Relations Board. He suspects that support for summer jobs will help his reelection effort.

Finally, any position the president would have created with the summer jobs fund included in his American Jobs Act would have required federal spending to create. The costs would have outweighed the benefits.

The larger problem with all of the president’s “We Can’t Wait” initiatives is that he’s using them to skirt the hard work of governing, of actually addressing the underlying causes of the employment problem: the deficit and debt and business-burdening regulations. Here, via The Heritage Foundation’s Bill Beach, a list of just a few of the Obama-era policies that have discouraged job creation:

  • Obamacare promises to increase health care costs and taxes on business owners.
  • EPA promises to increase the energy costs through new mandates on businesses.
  • Obamacare included 18 tax hikes. Income taxes are scheduled to go up on the first day of 2013. …
  • And, many business owners and investors are worried about inflation following the huge build up of bank reserves just waiting to become loans.
Paul Conway, president of the nonprofit, nonpartisan Generation Opportunity, which aims to engage millennials in discussion of economic issues, put it to me perfectly:
After ignoring the negative impact the poor economy has had on the lives and dreams of young Americans, the Obama Administration  today announced a short-term effort to create temporary opportunities for young people through a mix of internships, mentoring programs and job shadowing.

Ironically, after gluing the feet of the private sector to the floor through more regulations, higher taxes and an anti-business agenda, they now want employers to run full speed to hire young workers. The private sector would already be hiring and would have real, challenging, and satisfying jobs available for young people, to launch them into their careers were it not for the extreme amount of government intervention in the private sector through both regulation and taxes.

If Washington leaders want to show true empathy for those without jobs, they would stop pretending they have any expertise with job creation, admit their policies are the barriers to youth employment and let private employers do what they do best.
To any millennial who is tempted to vote for Obama because he promises to deliver summer jobs, I offer this reminder: His deficit spending has saddled us with a debt that matches our country’s GDP. His unwillingness to reform the entitlement programs of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid means we will work to pay for the social safety net of older generations, but have no social safety net to rely on ourselves. We are the debt-paying generation — and no unpaid internship will help us pay it off.