Fear not; Barack Obama has an economic plan for America, and it's all in a glossy brochure, called "The New Economic Patriotism: A Plan for Jobs & Middle-Class Security" -- an antidote, we're told, to the vagueness of Mitt Romney's agenda.
This is what the president, according to a campaign official, believes will ensure that "every voter knows what a second term of an Obama presidency would mean for middle-class Americans." So, in other words, a shiny substance-free pamphlet is a metaphor for the Obama presidency -- because these 11 pages of fluff make Romney's tax proposal look like an annotated edition of the Talmud.
Even if we accepted that this is a "jobs plan" at all -- and one would have to stretch the imagination -- there are perhaps two items even tangentially connected to the issue at hand.
Members of the middle class will be pleased to learn that their children's future will feature marginally smaller class sizes and work as a midlevel functionary in a green-energy factory. According to the president, the best way to grow the middle class outward (whatever that means) is to strive for more menial labor work in an unproductive manufacturing sector. Forward.
Obama supported cap-and-trade legislation, the sole purpose of which is to make fossil fuel more expensive, so let's dismiss his contention that the administration would concern itself with expanding oil and gas work in a second term. Let's focus instead on the green energy sector, which cannot sustain itself today -- just look at the slew of clean-energy bankruptcies we've involuntarily invested in -- or in the future. As The New York Times recently reported, "stimulus money is almost all gone, leaving many of these projects without a government benefactor and making them orphans in a competitive marketplace dominated by the deep-pocketed fossil fuel industries." (Deep-pocketed industries will remain deep-pocketed if they continue to offer Americans things we value -- you know, like energy.)
Another foundational element of Obama's wholly unserious proposal is hiring more teachers -- even though this isn't a function of the federal government to begin with and even though, according to Lindsey Burke of The Heritage Foundation, since 1970 the number of students in public schools has increased by 8 percent while the number of teachers has increased 60 percent and even though hiring more teachers would, at best, have a marginal impact on economic growth.
But we love teachers. Check the brochure.
Another component featured in the Obama plan is tax cuts for small business with a side order of fairness. This would impel the wealthiest among us to chip in just a little itty bit more to bring down the deficit. Here we are faced with two problems:
If you believe that Obama would use the extra $80 billion in revenue extracted from the rich to reduce the deficit, I have an 11-page glossy jobs pamphlet for you. And Obama's tax on the rich would hit more than 1 million small businesses, according to the Internal Revenue Service, which would make his tepid supply-side policy item -- the kind of policy he regularly mocks, incidentally -- useless.
Still, according to a Bloomberg survey of selected economists, under Obama's plan, "13,000 jobs would be created in 2013, bringing the total to 288,000 over two years." That's hundreds of billion in spending -- deficit spending -- aimed at creating a few unsustainable jobs without the benefit of any real private-sector growth.
Do the math, as they say.
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