Monday, November 30, 2009

The phony jobs summit

Holding a summit on an important policy issue is what presidents do when there is nothing else they can do. At least they get a photo op and they can hope that that will be enough to appease the discontented masses. So President Obama will hold his jobs summit on Thursday. Did you have any idea how many other summits Obama has already held? Politico has the list.
President Barack Obama’s already done a “Fiscal Responsibility Summit,” a “Health Care Summit,” an “H1N1 Flu Preparedness Summit,” and even a “Distracted Driving Summit.”
Oh, it's clear how well that whole "Fiscal Responsibility Summit" worked out. Earth to Obama: holding the summit with a virtuous title is not exactly the same thing as exhibiting that virtue. Has any recent president done less to encourage fiscal responsibility? How about exercising a little control over his allies in Congress?

But back to his photo-op Jobs Summit. As Politico details, we can't expect anything at all from the whole shebang, no matter how many nice pictures get taken. Presidents can't do much on their own to improve the economy. But Obama can't admit that since he sold himself to the American people as the guy who could handle the economic collapse. He's given us some nice speeches telling us how this was his number one priority and he would give us "bold and swift" action as well as "laying a new foundation for growth." And then we had the porkapalooza of the stimulus bill. As many predicted at the time, it's been a bust for lowering unemployment.

And if there was something they wanted to do, we just don't have the money for it. On top of that, his own policies on a wide range of matters are actually holding back growth by increasing uncertainty on taxes, the budget, health care, and the environment.

As Politico concludes, throwing a jobs summit is just a fancy photo-opish way of saying "We don't have a clue what to do."
The biggest political danger for Obama going into the jobs summit, though, is creating a sense that he’s out of ideas.
Yup. And getting a news story showing him sitting around with a bunch of other guys talking seriously about a serious problem won't mean squat if Obama is still going to push for policies that have the side effect of retarding economic growth.