For millions of unemployed American workers, President Obama's State of the Union proposals offered little hope that they were going to find a job anytime soon.
With few exceptions, this was an address filled with small, timid, long-term government spending proposals that won't be fueling the 4 percent to 5 percent economic growth needed to bring unemployment down to even 8 percent in the next year or two. And we're a long way from the 4.7 percent level we saw in 2007, before the recession hit.
In a White House empty of new ideas beyond its failed $1 trillion spending stimulus, Obama fell back on the same old proposals he has been peddling for two years: more infrastructure spending on federal clean-energy subsidies (wind, solar, battery, etc.), bigger federal R&D budgets for new technology development and a line of public-works projects for roads, bridges and high-speed rail lines.
But these spending projects, which will add half a trillion dollars to our debt, are years from becoming economically viable (if they ever will be) or producing the large numbers of jobs we need now, if they ever do.
The public-works projects end when the money runs out and take years to get into the pipeline, and so do the jobs. High-speed rail lines come with huge up-front costs, and past experience shows they are not self-supporting, and never will be.
While motorists wait for affordable clean energy, they are being soaked by $3- to $4-a-gallon gas prices because Obama has stopped drilling for new sources of oil, and that is imposing a brutal tax on all drivers, businesses and our economy.
He talked much about our economy becoming more competitive in the global marketplace, but until recently he has been hostile to free-trade deals to open up new markets for American products and had shelved three trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama under orders from union bosses.
He allowed fast-track trade negotiating authority to expire, thus making new market-expanding deals more difficult to achieve and pass Congress. This is a guy who has talked a lot about jobs but whose economic policies ignored the promise of growing exports and trade to put more Americans back to work.
Apparently, he changed his tune in the face of a jobless rate that has been stuck between 9 percent and 10 percent during the first half of his presidential term. Meanwhile, millions of jobless Americans have suffered needlessly as China, India and other competitors gobbled up new job-creating export markets and U.S. trade policy was frozen.