Bad news abounds.
Claims for new jobless benefits jumped by half-a-million last week. The unemployment rate hovers near 10 percent, and isn’t expected to decline any time soon. President Barack Obama reacted in knee-jerk fashion, by calling for more federal intervention in the economy.
“Small businesses and community banks that loan to small businesses have been lagging behind,” he said. “If we want this economy to create more jobs more quickly, we need to help them.” He wants to provide some $12 billion in tax breaks to small businesses and $30 billion to small banks.
Yet the federal spending is piling up, and seems to be doing little except running up the national debt.
Earlier this month, lawmakers returned from vacation for a day so they could pass a $26 billion measure that would supposedly “save” the jobs of 300,000 teachers. The joke’s on them: The New York Times reports that many school districts plan to bank the bailout money instead of hiring teachers back for this school year. Los Angeles, for example, “laid off 682 teachers and counselors and about 2,000 support workers this spring and was not sure it would be able to hire any of them back with the stimulus money,” the paper reports.
This particular batch of spending, we’re told, was paid for. Lawmakers have promised to trim tens of billions from food stamps in the year 2014. We’ll just have to hold our breath to see if those cuts actually happen.
All this comes on the heels of the $800 billion (and counting) “stimulus” bill. Obama promised that bill would keep unemployment below 8 percent. Oops. These days, Vice President Joe Biden’s been reduced to complaining that $800 billion simply wasn’t enough.
Yet if, in fact, federal spending can boost the economy, it ought to be in overdrive by now. It’s not. So what’s holding things back? It could be death by a thousand cuts. Or, to be more specific, death by thousands of pages of regulations.
This year alone, Obama has signed a massive health care bill and a financial regulation bill. Nobody knows exactly what’s contained in those thousands of pages -- not even the people who voted for them.
“We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi explained before the health care measure passed in March. On the financial front, “No one will know until this is actually in place how it works,” Sen. Christopher Dodd explained before the Senate passed his financial reform measure. How reassuring.
It’s no surprise to learn that Dodd’s bill contains measures that will make it more difficult to hire workers.