As the American economy remains sluggish and unemployment remains high, President Obama held a “jobs summit” today after mounting pressure by both sides of the political spectrum to start focusing on job creation and the economy, a policy area the administration has largely ignored since the passage of the stimulus package in February. What it largely resembled is a photo opportunity and an effort at PR damage control rather than a search for viable economic remedies.
Consider this: the summit had representatives from Big Labor and executives from American Airlines, Boeing, and FedEx, but the biggest story is who wasn’t invited. In a decision based on petty politics over their opposition to Obama’s health care plan, the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business were forced to remain on the sidelines. If the President was serious about getting all opinions for job recovery, at a minimum those two organizations should have been included. Their omission speaks volumes about the real purpose of the summit and the partisan factors driving it.
So what was accomplished at the summit? Well, apparently the discussions will result in – surprise! – a speech by Obama next week addressing the economy (Good idea! You’re not overexposed or anything!) along with – surprise! – a call for limited government programs to incentivize home weatherization nicknamed “Cash for Caulkers.” That’s not a joke made by me, that’s a name given by summit attendees.
But the biggest admission by Obama was that the government was limited in its ability to help spur the economy. The money quote:
I want to be clear: While I believe the government has a critical role in creating the conditions for economic growth, ultimately true economic recovery is only going to come from the private sector.
I agree with you, Mr. President. The only problem is that you urged Congress to pass a $787 billion stimulus package that is now widely seen as a failure. In the meantime, the private sector is left wondering what in the world its business expenses will be with costs of health care reform, cap and trade, and various tax increases being bandied about by members of Congress, costs that have a real impact on the ability of businesses to expand and hire more workers.
Really, the admission blows me away. With another dismal unemployment report expected tomorrow, it’s almost as if Obama is now deflecting blame for any further economic problems to the private sector – “Sorry, private sector, you’re responsible for economic recovery, not me.” It all proves that the jobs summit wasn’t about ideas and solutions, but political posturing and grandstanding that in the end will leave us right where we started, just with a worse taste in our mouths than we had before.