Did you hear the big “question” for our President last week?
“…Since the recovery began, businesses have spent just 2% more on hiring people while at the same time spending 26% more on equipment” the journalist noted, as she stared intently at President Obama. “So why,” she continued, “at a time when corporate America is enjoying record profits, have you been unable to convince businesses to hire more people Mr. President?”
The journalist, of course, was Ann Curry of NBC News. And part of the President’s response –the part where he blamed the lack of hiring on the fact that “a lot of businesses have learned to be a lot more efficient, with a lot fewer workers,” and then noted ATM machines replacing bank tellers as an example – quickly became a familiar sound byte on talk radio.
Unfortunately, neither the President’s statement that preceded his “few workers” comment, nor the assumption that seemed to underlie Curry’s question, got much attention at all. And this is problematic - because they are both important if one is to understand the Obama economy, and the lack of “job creation.”
Let’s look again at the question. “Why….have you been unable to convince businesses to hire more people, Mr. President?” The assumption here is that American businesses hire new employees because they are “convinced” to do so by the U.S. President. Businesses don’t hire employees because they have a need, or an incentive, or an interest to do so – they “just hire” because the President cajoles and persuades and “convinces.” Or so the assumption goes.
This is a false assumption, of course, although I won’t “assume” that Ms. Curry buys into it herself. The President himself has seemingly made this assumption, and Curry’s question provided the President with a modicum of accountability.
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.