Obama: Job Killer-in-Chief

Geez, yesterday Obama punted on the Keystone XL project that the State Department had approved a couple of months ago after a 2-year review process. I wrote about this before here.

For all his endless rhetoric about creating jobs, it appears there aren’t too many kinds of jobs that Obama actually finds worthy of pushing thru.

From my perspective, he’s stymied or outright blocked job creation in the following sectors:

  • Energy sector in all it’s forms, except green jobs (too dirty)
  • Defense sector (too violent)
  • Aerospace (Boeing action)
  • Medical devices / products (more restrictive FDA)
  • Financial services in it’s many forms (Dodd-Frank, etc.)
  • Telecom sector (killed AT&T / T-Mobile merger)

He even recently created problems for the guitar industry because it was using wood that apparently wasn’t produced to the standards our government expect. And more generally, he’s cranked up the amount of regulation facing businesses in most every sector in a way that, at a minimum, can’t be said to encourage growth.

He gives lip service to jobs, but in practice the only jobs he appears to be in favor of are ones that are heavily subsidized by the Federal government:

  • Federal and state government jobs, especially teachers and first responders
  • Construction jobs – at least ones that are paid for with gov’t stimulus money
  • Green energy jobs (even though these are costing the taxpayer on the order of $1m each in subsidies and loans)
  • Health care jobs, even though we spend more per capita than most any other country

The main problem with this strategy is that none of the favored sectors are, as yet, net wealth creators. Each of these sectors are downstream secondary sectors that absorb and make use of wealth created by other sectors. If you make the feedback loop big enough and long enough, you can argue these sectors enable the wealth creating sectors, but if you are sticking it to the wealth creating sectors while pushing ever more money to the wealth absorbers, that loop never really gets a chance to work.

If you don’t enable the wealth creating sectors, you aren’t on a sustainable path – the whole shebang will eventually run out of steam cause there’s not enough input capital (payroll, tax revenues, etc.) coming from the wealth creating sectors to fund wealth absorbing sectors. Some would argue that the origins of this problem pre-dates Obama and I’d agree with that, but surely Obama has done nothing but make it worse at a time when we need it to be functioning at the highest possible level.

So, I’m left totally baffled where he and his fellow Democrats think jobs are going to come from.

  • He’s stuffed every major private sector project / action that’s come along during his presidency
  • He’s enacted piles of new regulations that slow commercial activity on every front
  • He’s ceaselessly cast the private sector as the bad guys for every problem we face

I have no idea how any of this helps create the new wealth in this country that is required to fund new (sustainable)  jobs in wealth creating sectors – or any sector.

From what I can tell, Democrats are totally down with this formula: jobs are crucial as long as they fit within a very narrow band of acceptable commerical activity. Even in these dire times, to the Democratic mind a good job is one that doesn’t pollute, doesn’t mar the landscape in any way, doesn’t discriminate, doesn’t exploit anyone or anything in any way, doesn’t favor the wealthy, doesn’t involve any risk of personal injury, etc.

It’s a pretty restrictive set of conditions and it is no wonder that there are so few sparks of resurgent commercial activity. If it were me, I’d make a very different set of tradeoffs. Rather than increasing restrictions, he should be loosening. If there is some mess made as a result, so be it. We can clean it up later when we are flush.


5 thoughts on “Obama: Job Killer-in-Chief”

  1. John
    It has been awhile since I have commented on your posts, but I see you are still pushing the FOX News propaganda. You and I both know that since January 2010 the private sector has added 3,000,000 new jobs. The government sector has lost 500,000 jobs. Yet you still try to push the OBama is a job killer BS. You claim that re-regulation of various industries has lost jobs. Where? Boeing was a relocation not a net job creator. In many case new regulations result in more jobs because companies need extra people to comply with these new regs. If you think the finanial services industry is a wealth creator, then you need to do a lot more reading (not right-wing blogs). The financial sector has been the biggest wealth destroyer in history. A few people have pocketed huge sums of money in their own accounts by inflating a credit bubble and then exporting the toxic assests around the world, but they have destroyed the wealth of millions of people. I for one have (and I am sure you have) seen a significant reduction in my net worth and I was not participating in the CDO or credit markets or even the stock market during this entire period. Yet their recklessness has reduced the value of my assets. Dodd-Frank did not go far enough. We are still at risk that the “Too Big to Fail” banks will take down the economy with them. Europe is likely to be the trigger and the banks will import the crisis to America.
    With respect to the Keystone KL pipe line, the left-wing governor and state legislature in Nebraska wanted to delay the project because of the impacts on their water supply source. Wait, aren’t they all Republicans in Nebraska? What radical environmentalist they have in Nebraska.
    The AT&T – T-Mobile merger would have resulted in job loss. Most big mergers result in job losses as they eliminate overlap. There is a long track record of prior mergers that show job loss in the norm.
    The “Obama is a job killer” story just doesn’t hold water. You have to use innuendo and inference to try to support this false narrative. But this is how propaganda works. FOX and Heritige these fairy tales out there and guys like you will repeat them.

  2. Hi Dan:

    Nice to hear from you, but as before, I can’t relate to your perspectives. Less and less the more you speak.

    It’s an upside down view of the world when someone believes that increasing regulations ‘result in more jobs’. Perhaps there are limited circumstances where this might be true, but in the general case, this proposition defies common sense.

    As to Boeing being a ‘relocation’, this is factually untrue. This is a new facility with a new, incremental workforce to create additional capacity for a successful product line. The original facility in Washington is not losing jobs, but, in fact, has added ~2,000 new jobs since the SC facility was announced.

    I’ll pass on responding to your other counterpoints. Since I make a point to read / listen to NYT and MSNBC reguarly, I know your comments hold tightly to the party line. As above, it’s an upside down interpretation of data and events. Point by point, it just doesn’t make sense to me.

    In recent months, partly prompted by our dialogue over the summer, I’ve been trying really hard to understand how the two sides come to believe what they believe. Sadly, it remains a mystery.

    It seems to begin with a radically different set of premises of what is good and bad / desirable and not desirable and then you add to that a different set of cause and effect beliefs / mechanics. It mixes together and the result is that we end up seeing the world as if through inverted lenses. Where you see up, I see down, etc. – except it’s in a multidimensional space with innumerable variables. It is a chasm not easily crossed.


  3. John,
    There is no doubt that we look at issues from a different perspective. IF you want to get a better understanding of why, there are 2 books that you should read. I think I have mentioned them to you before: John Dean’s “Conservatives Without Conscience” and George Lakoff’s “Moral Politics”. Both deal with big picture framing in our subconscience and the personality types that are attracted to each. After reading them, when you listen to politians speak, you will better understand how they are framing their messages to fit into their perspectives,
    The interesting thing is that those on the right who scream the loudest about protecting the Constitution and personal freedoms are the first that will give them up. First they advocate taking them away from someone else, then they will give up their own. The pro-life/pro-choice fight is the first that comes to mind but I could list many. It is because their personality type is that of an authoritarian follower (described very well in Dean’s book). It is a top down hirachy. Compare the TEA Party vs Occupy Wall Street. The TEA party may haxe started out at a grassroot level but very quickly it was co-opted by big money groups and people who ran to the front as “the spokesman” for them. The message was very quickly refined to sound bites. Why? Because they had professional organizations like Freedom Works behind them that crafted their message. Then they run out there and say “yea, that’s what we are for”.
    Take Dodd-Frank for example. More than 80% of people were against bailing out the big banks and thought that we need to do something to break them up. More than 80% cuts across all party lines and political philosophies. Then for a year and a half Congress worked on new regulations to reign in the big banks. Those politicians that have been bought off by the big banks water it down and now we have even bigger banks and some modest rules that will allow the government to take control of a big bank and unwind it.
    But those with the authoritarian personality type, who were opposed to the bailout, are now opposed to Dodd-Frank because it infringes upon the free market. Their position has been turned 180 degrees. Then you get arguments like “Dodd-Frank is a job killer” in an effort to defend an undefensible position. The problem is still too big to fail banks. The banks will not get smaller on their own, so government regulation is the only way it will occur. People moving their money out of big banks will help, but that is not the long term solution.
    Occupy Wall Street, on the other hand, is a grassroots movement that doesn’t have an identifable leader. The biggest complaint you hear in the media is that they don’t have a coherent message. The media keeps trying to fit them into a top down hirarchy because that is also how the media corporations operate, with FOX News being the most authoritarian of all.

    If you read these two books, I don’t think you will make the claim “it defies common sense” and my position will make more sense to you. I understand where you are coming from although I don’t agree with your position. I see where you are trying to fit facts into the narrative of your world view framing. I am sure you will say the same about me, but if we both understand this premise then we can argue how best the “facts” support one or the other of these frames. Your “Obama: Job Killer-in-Chief” article caught my attention because on its face is a ridiculous notion. He has been trying to do everything he can to create or retain jobs. You may not agree with what he has done or proposed, like the auto industy bailout or federal aid to state and local governments to retain public employees, but you cannot then turn around and call him a job killer by citing the Keystone pipeline or a few other policy decisions that conservatives disagree with.

    I agree with you that we see things from opposite sides. But I would argue that if conservatives, particularly those who are regular FOX News viewers and right-wing radio listeners are the ones who have the inverted lenses. I could cite 100’s if not 1000’s of examples where they have distorted stories by 180 degrees by leaving out relevant facts or just making things up. Were you aware that Nebraska had asked for the pipeline decision to be delayed because they are concerned about their drinking water source? Is a few tousand jobs worth the potential contamination of Nebraska’s drinking water? But in right-wing world this feeds into the “Obama is a job killer” story line. Never mind 3 million private sector jobs have been created since January 2010. “Obama is bad for business and a job killer. That’s our story and we are sticking to it.”


  4. Yes, I totally grant you there are major inconsistencies in the Republican platform. Very obvious.

    And I completely agree that there is rampant distortion of facts, cherry picking of data, changing messages, twisting of positions and so forth by Republicans. Some of it may be warranted because of changing circumstances – e.g., you frequently reference Reagan running up debt 25 years ago as a justification for why it is unfair for the right to criticize Obama for running up debt now. Times have changed and positions need to change to – I don’t see one as justification for the other.

    What is remarkable is not that the GOP does this, but the implied point that the left does not. It seems like you think that when you read the NYT and watch MSNBC that they are telling the ‘truth’. But they are cherry picking their facts, changing their positions to suit the current climate, etc. just as fast, if not faster, than the right.

    Not that I would take the time, but I could provide you with similarly large numbers of examples from the left as you claim to be able to provide me from the right of distortions and obfuscation. That said, I know you have a special place in your heart for the inherent evil and deeply twisted motivations of Fox, so you may find that hard to believe.

    I also continue to try to say to you, but you seem immune from hearing it, that I don’t actually get most of my news from Fox. I had literally never even watched the channel prior to this summer, so your constant assertions that my worldview has been shaped by Fox and/or that I am parroting back what I hear on Fox is absurd.

    And when I watch Fox, it is hardly the case that I agree with everything they say, but if I compare what I hear on Fox to what I hear on MSNBC, I am definitely going to agree with the Fox view more of the time.

    I could likewise say to you (and have) that you sound like you are parroting the MSNBC party line. Or the opinion columnists of the NYT (excluding Brooks and Douthat).

    I asked you once before and don’t think I got a reply, but can you name 3-5 major policy positions (economic or social) held by the liberal community that you disagree with? And by this, I don’t mean that you hold a position even further to the left than the mainsteam of the party, but rather positions you hold that are farther to the right. Positions that folks on Fox News might agree with (at least directionally). I’d be surprised if you can, but it’d be an interesting exercise. I can easily do so.

    But I digress, the point is that the problem of distortion and selective thinking, etc. is rampant on both sides.Do you agree with that? Is there a comparable amount of distortion on both sides?

    P.S. – I listened to a lengthy interview from 2006 with Dean. I don’t find it compelling. Sounds like he has demons that he’s trying to excise. But whatever the motivations, a lot of what he says about Republicans being followers and being resistent to changing their views even in the face of facts, etc. applies plenty good to many liberals (leaving aside the authoritarian part). Fighting and suppressing others who dissent? – I remember that happening a lot when I lived in MA. And the part about needing a motivating enemy to rally against and drive fear into the hearts of voters: Fox News anyone? Climate change? Loss of social security benefits? More rape and crime on the streets?

  5. John,
    Your right that I will frequently reference Reagan. I do it for two primary reasons. First, todays conservatives hold him as the ideal conservative and they are all striving to be the next Reagan. Listen to Republican debates and see how many times they invoke Reagan and compare that to how many (if any) times Bush is invoked. But when they do refer to Reagan it is the mythological version not the real Reagan. This is why they are having a hard time finding someone to live up to those standards. Second, it was Reagan who brought us supply side economics (or as George HW Bush called it Voodoo economics). We have been living with it ever since 1981. Reagan during his 8 years increased the national debt by 186%. GHW Bush increased it by 54.4% in only 4 years and GW Bush increased it by 150.1% in his 8 years. By contrast Clinton increased it by 31.6% in his 8 years. If you look at Clinton’s numbers you will also see that the percentage of increase went down year after year. So Republican presidents controlled the White House for 20 of the 28 years under a supply side economic system and the Natiional Debt went from $997.8 billion when Reagan came into office to $11.9 trillion when GW Bush left office. So the evidence tells me that they are not fiscally responsable and when I hear them crying about deficit spending and the size of the debt, they have no credability. Obama’s deficit spending is too high but the year over year percent of increase is declining from Bush’s last year. Federal revenues are way down as a percentage of GDP (the lowest since 1950) so you can’t expect to see Obama turn it around in a couple of years. I am willing to give him his full 8 years to get things turned around.
    I don’t think I specifically referenced you when I was talking about regular FOX News viewers. I was not trying to make it personal. I was trying to make a more general point.
    For myself, I don’t read NY Times. On occasion I may run across an article from them. I do watch MSNBC. But I read a lot of books and the only magazine I get is the Economist.
    Can I name 3-5 major policy positions (economic or social) held by the liberal community that you disagree with? I doubt it, that is why I am not a conservative. When it comes to social issues I actually believe in individual freedom and civil rights. I think people should be able to marry who they want, serve in the militray if they are gay, or have an abortion if the choose. I like the Jefferson quote, “if it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” I am not a gun control advocate, so a FOX vewer might agree with that position. Although I will qualify my position by saying that I don’t think individuals should own military grade weapons. On economic policies it is difficult to find any position that I would agree with the right on because I think supply side economics has been the problem for the past 30 years. We now have 30 years worth of data and we have the widest income and wealth gaps since the late 1920’s. Trickle down is not trickling down. We have gutted our consumer base, the vast middle class no longer has discretionary income to spend on products and services. When the economy is 70% based on consumer spending it can only lead to a shrinking economy. It can be temporarily be held up by expanding credit (at all levels) but that can only occur for so long before the whole thing collapses. That is where we find ourselves today. We are in a credit contraction (deflation). But we are not going to solve credit deflation with budget cuts and austerity measures. So I guess if I don’t accept supply side theory and the propsed supply side solutions to the problems that it has created, then I must be on the liberial side since it seems that everything has to be black or white. I guess there is no gray in the middle anymore. Although I would say that most liberals couldn’t tell you the difference between suppy side and Keynesian economics. Actually most people find economics oo boring.

    PS: John Dean didn’t do the studies that are cited in his book. He and Barry Goldwater (before he died) had come across the numerous studies that have been done since WW II and put the data in the book. The term “follower” was just used to distinguish between authoritarian “leaders” and those who follow them. I have thought for quite some time that the Republican Party is far more authoritarian, which is why they can keep everybody in line, and that they look at China’s authoritarian capitalism model as the ideal system. Big business tends to likes this type of a system because they can negotiate with a authority figure who can enforce the deal. At Saturday’s debate Michele Bachmann came out and said it. She said that the U.S. should be more like China. A Republican presidential candidate said out loud that we should be more like a communist country. And they question the patriotism of liberals?

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