WASHINGTON -- What do President Obama and the Democrats know about creating jobs? Judging by the anemic number of private-sector jobs being produced under their policies, not much.
Obama certainly knows a lot about government jobs. He's always taking credit for the state and local public jobs he claims he "saved" under his $800 billion federal spending stimulus giveaway plan.
That's not hard to do. You take money out of the economy -- from workers through the federal income or payroll tax systems or by borrowing it -- driving up the deficit -- and send checks to governors, mayors and county officials to bail them out and pay their bills. Of course you weaken the economy in the midst of a recession, but Obama hopes no one will notice that.
Obama and the Democrats know how to create more jobs at the federal level, too. In the past two years they have passed legislation that is creating armies of bureaucrats, regulators and investigators who will police, micromanage and oversee every nook and cranny of our economy at huge costs to taxpayers and employers.
But creating private-sector jobs to employ 15 to 20 million Americans who can't find a job or are underemployed is a little more complicated. Or at least it is for Obama, who hasn't a clue about how to fuel economic growth, new-business formation and permanent, good-paying jobs.
You rarely hear him talking about entrepreneurs who start a small business, seek out new investment capital to expand their enterprise and create new products, services and jobs. He never talks about new-business formation, either -- a critical part of a dynamic economy whose numbers have fallen to new lows.
When Obama talks about investing, invariably he means federal spending from which the government decides when, where and how that money will be allocated. The government picks the winners and losers, and we know how successful that has been. Economic growth slowed to 1.7 percent in the second quarter. Private jobs grew at a tepid 64,000 last month. Overall, employers shed 100,000 jobs. More than two dozen states saw their unemployment rates rise.
The late Jack Kemp, who championed growth incentives, lower income tax rates, a zero capital-gains rate and cutting the corporate tax rate (the second-highest among the industrialized economies of the world), said the way to create more employees is to produce more employers.
In the Florida Senate race debate this week, Republican nominee Marco Rubio gave his two rivals, who embraced Obama's stimulus, a tutorial on growth economics. Jobs are created by entrepreneurs, not by the government, Rubio said. Government's role is to create a climate for economic opportunity, risk-taking investment and growth. Exactly.
That is the message being preached by GOP Senate candidates across the country, particularly former top business CEOs who know how to create jobs -- from Carly Fiorina in California to Ron Johnson in Wisconsin to Linda McMahon in Connecticut.
The national news media seems to have bent over backward to avoid or downplay any deep, sustained reporting about the job crisis, but it is not going away anytime soon, economists say.
The Fed's periodic "beige book," a national survey of business activity released Wednesday, reports that "hiring remained limited, with many firms reluctant to add to permanent payrolls given economic softness."
"Hiring at manufacturing firms remains sluggish," the Fed said.
Economist Peter Morici, professor at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, has been a sharp critic of the anemic job numbers Obama keeps promoting and praising as "moving in the right direction." "By the end of 2013, 13 million private sector jobs must be added to bring unemployment down to 6 percent, and Obama administration policies are not creating conditions for businesses to hire 333,000 workers each month," Morici says.
Mediocre 2 percent economic growth won't do it. "Business can accommodate up to 2 percent growth by boosting productivity without adding workers," he says. Goldman Sachs chief economist Jan Hatzius is forecasting weak economic growth between 1.5 and 2 percent next year, which will push unemployment over 10 percent.
But sadly, Obama, the Democrats and their allies in the national news media aren't addressing this paramount economic issue in the final weeks of the midterm elections.
Instead, they are attacking the conservative tea-party movement and its candidates, running nonstop news stories that focus on the perceived problems facing Senate Republican nominee Christine O'Donnell's campaign in Delaware and other tea-party candidates, or negatively focusing on the GOP's fundraising strength.
But Obama and the Democrats ignore the most important political issue at their peril. They and their cozy friends on the nightly network news shows may think they can get away with this, but the voters know what's important and what's wrong in this election, and they know how to fix it.