Obama: My singular focus from now on will be economic growth

Wasn’t the economy supposedly Barack Obama’s singular focus before now?  Fox News asks the question after Obama’s presser yesterday, especially the notion that we need to “pivot” to job growth.  We have heard that claim before — interestingly, a year ago to the day today.  Greg Burke discusses the promise with Rick Santorum:

Let’s go to the presser transcript, posted by Andrew Malcolm. The statement came in response to a question from Dan Lothian of CNN, who wanted to know whether the car had been pulled out of the ditch yet. Here’s the entire answer:

Q Can you give us an update on that car that you talk about so much about being in the ditch? Can you give us an update as to where it is today? What kind of highway do you think it will be driving on in 2011? Who will really be behind the wheel, given the new makeup in Congress? And what do you think Republicans will be sipping and saying next year? (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Dan, you gave some thought to that question, didn’t you?

Q I did. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I do think that the car is on level ground. I mean, the car is the economy. And I think we are past the crisis point in the economy, but we now have to pivot and focus on jobs and growth. And my singular focus over the next two years is not rescuing the economy from potential disaster, but rather jumpstarting the economy so that we actually start making a dent in the unemployment rate and we are equipping ourselves so that we can compete in the 21st century.

And that means we’ve got to focus on education, that means we have to focus on research and development, we have to focus on innovation. We have to make sure that in every sector, from manufacturing to clean energy to high-tech to biotech, that we recognize the private sector is going to be the driving force. And what the government can do is to make sure that we are a good partner with them, that we’re a facilitator; that in some cases, we’re a catalyst, when it’s a fledgling industry.

And that means that we’ve got to look at some of our old dogmas — both Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals — to think about what works. If there are regulations that are in place that are impeding innovation, let’s get rid of those regulations. Let’s make sure that we’re also protecting consumers, and we’re protecting the environment and protecting workers in the process. But let’s find ways to do business that helps business.

People were doubtful about the approach that we took to the auto industry, but that was an example of there may be occasions — certainly during crisis — where a timely intervention that’s limited and restricted can end up making a difference.

And so I think Democrats, Republicans, House, Senate, the White House — all of us have to be in a conversation with the private sector about what’s going to ensure that we can export and sell our products instead of just buying exports from someplace else. How do we make sure that the green technologies of the future are made here in America?

And how do we get all these profits that companies have been making since the economy recovered into productive investment and hiring? That’s a conversation that I had with the 20 CEOs who came here, and that’s a conversation I expect to continue in the months ahead.

But the answer about who drives — the American people are driving the car. They’re the ones who are going to be making an assessment as to whether we’re putting in place policies that are working for them. And both parties are going to be held accountable and I’m going to be held accountable if we take a wrong turn on that front.

To be fair, what Obama means in this example of “pivot” is to move from crisis mode and into normal economic stimulation. Unfortunately, we should have made that pivot at the time the White House first started talking about it a year ago. Instead, Obama spent the year pushing through ObamaCare and an expansion of Wall Street regulation rather than decrease regulatory burdens.

And what did Obama and the Democrats do in the lame-duck session? Their major efforts were:

  • DREAM Act
  • Omnibus spending bill
  • DADT Repeal
  • START treaty
  • 9/11 responder treatment bill
  • Expansion of FDA regulation
  • School lunch regulation
  • Tax deal

Of these, the only issue that even remotely related to jobs was the pending tax increases — which Democrats had roundly ignored until after the election. Of these, the only issue that required action before the end of the year was the tax hikes. And of these, it was only on the tax hikes that Obama had to be dragged, kicking and screaming about “hostage takers,” to an eventual deal.

Job creation has been a low priority over the last eighteen months, and the lame-duck session underscored that very point.