Donald Lambro

It should be clear to everyone by now that Obama doesn't have any idea what kind of growth rate is needed to get the economy up and running at full throttle. Economist Peter Morici says the economy "must add 13.7 million jobs over the next three years -- 381,000 jobs each month -- to bring unemployment down to 6 percent."

Friday's bleak employment report showed the Obama economy added zero net new jobs in August and only 85,000 jobs in July. The economy is barely growing at less than 1 percent, far from the 4 percent to 5 percent economic growth rate that is needed to boost job creation.

If the OMB's forecasts are correct, the economy is not going to break out of its severely lethargic spell before next November's elections. And no president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt has won re-election when the unemployment rate was hovering around 9 percent or more.

Since he enacted his failed $800 billion spending stimulus bill in 2009, Obama has taken several additional steps to jump-start the economy, including a one-year, 2-percentage-point cut in the Social Security payroll tax. All have met with failure.

Thursday night's televised address to a joint session of Congress is expected to call for a one-year extension of that tax cut, plus billions of dollars more to repair highways, bridges, schools, rails, airports and other infrastructure projects, and a jobs tax credit to reward employers who hire additional workers.

Obama has proposed the temporary jobs tax credit before but without any success. Employers aren't hiring because business is poor and they can't afford to enlarge their payroll, or they have little confidence that the economy will improve. The offer of a tax credit is irrelevant in the current economic environment.

Obama's economic policy is trapped in an ideological aversion to cutting income tax rates permanently. Businesses need tax cuts to improve their bottom line, invest in expansion and to unlock venture capital for risk-taking loans.

All of this is missing from Obamanomics, which is about enlarging government instead of enlarging the private business sector and our shrinking labor force.

Republicans, on the other hand, want to broaden the tax base by getting rid of tax loopholes and cutting the tax rates. That is the huge policy gulf that separates the two parties in Congress. In the end, it will probably take an election to decide which course our country takes to get the economy running again. The one we're on certainly isn't working.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.