Michael S. Barr, the assistant Treasury secretary who shepherded the new federal regulations for the financial industry through Congress, has departed. Diana Farrell, the deputy director of Mr. Obama’s National Economic Council and another architect of the regulatory legislation, will leave at the end of the year. The team is breaking up.
In August, Robert Gibbs explained to reporters that Obama’s economic team was “exhausted.” The only ones left from the original team are Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and the sclerotic Paul Volcker, chairman of the Economic Recovery Advisory Board and Federal Reserve chairman under former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.
Last Tuesday, President Obama, in a “news availability” (meaning he refused to take any questions), told reporters after meeting with Republican congressional leaders for the first time since the election that the American people “want us to come together around strategies that will accelerate the recovery and get Americans back to work.” So where are the Democratic strategies to generate millions of new jobs?
The Democratic-led lame-duck session and the president are our only insight. And thus far, they have ducked all legislative questions on economic strategies that can promote prosperity. Their single Hallelujah jobs legislation — a $12 billion unemployment benefit extension that isn’t paid for — does not create a single new job. What about the only other economic piece of legislation – preserving the Bush tax cuts? Democrats passed an extension that does not include the highest earners — what incoming Speaker John Boehner calls “chicken crap.” But the extension of the tax cuts will not generate any new jobs either; it will simply assure there aren’t more job losses. The tax cut bill is a jobs preservationist policy, not a job growth policy.
The mainstream media’s spin of the Democratic drubbing last month was that it was only due to unemployment and not a reflection on the president’s policies. A larger issue the media has all but ignored is that there is no one at the White House directing economic growth policies. And today’s horrible jobs numbers shows it.