Donald Lambro

But few economists believe these claims, and the employment numbers do not support them. Businesses slashed 20,000 more jobs in January, and the Labor Department reported that the economy actually lost 150,000 jobs in December, not 85,000, as it previously reported.

The White House tried to make much of the unemployment rate's drop to 9.7 percent, but that was largely due to a sharp increase in the number of Americans who have given up looking for work, which rose to 1.1 million last month. "Each week, more than 450,000 Americans apply for new unemployment benefits, and 17 percent of adults can't find a full-time job or have quit looking for work altogether," said University of Maryland economist Peter Morici.

Desperate to show that they are now refocusing and redoubling their efforts to reignite new job creation, the administration has been cooking up every half-baked, back-burner idea it can find. But its spending ideas have yet to stoke the Great American Jobs Machine, and they aren't going to, either.

Obama's plan to transfer $30 billion to a few favored community banks to lend to small business is like pouring a thimble full of water in the ocean -- or in this case, a $14 trillion economy. It will have no macro effect.

There is less confidence among Democrats on Capitol Hill that another $100 billion or so in stimulus spending will work, either, but Democrats are ready to throw more money at it in the absence of any better proposals coming out of the White House.

The administration's latest act of desperation is to increase the Export-Import Bank's funding for small businesses from $4 billion to $6 billion, to subsidize foreign purchases of U.S. exports with low-interest loans. The money will also hire more workers at the Commerce Department. Taking more capital out of the U.S. economy, which this program does, weakens capital formation and economic growth. The signal all of this sends is that the administration has run out of new spending ideas to boost the economy, which was never going to work in the first place. The voters instinctively realize this, and it is now dawning on the stock market, which has tumbled in the past week, a clear sign that it has lost confidence in this presidency to "fix what is broken in the American economy," Morici says.

Now, more Democrats are beginning to complain. Last week, former Virginia Gov. Douglas Wilder, who endorsed Obama, urged him to get rid of the political advisers who are running the White House as if it were just another campaign, and replace them with "others more capable of helping him govern."

"The West Wing is filled with people who are in their jobs because of their Chicago connections" but who have no experience in governing at the executive-branch level, Wilder wrote at the Politico Web site.

The much deeper problem, of course, is that Obama doesn't have any executive experience, either.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.