Obama Came to a Fork in the Road and Took It

Will President Obama’s Thursday address be the worst speech ever? Kevin Hassett almost thinks so:

It might be that this jobs report stimulates the Obama team to drop all the Keynesian nonsense, but I doubt it. Frankly, I expect Obama’s jobs speech to be the worst presidential speech in my lifetime.


I don’t know how old Kevin is, but my lifetime stretches back to Jimmy Carter’s “malaise” speech of 1979. The Washington Post‘s David Nakamura remembers it, too:

Obama is not Carter. But when asked if there were historical parallels between the high stakes Obama is facing in his big jobs speech to Congress at 7 p.m. next Thursday, some presidential historians made the connection to Carter’s moment three decades ago.

“It was a make-or-break speech,” said John Kenneth White, a political science professor at Catholic University. Carter had “gone to Camp David to assess what had gone wrong in the energy crisis, but also what had gone wrong with his presidency, to hit the restart button.”

Obama is scheduled to go to Camp David on Friday for two days, the same day that the newest job report shows unemployment holding at 9.1. percent.

Presidential historians said Obama has raised the stakes by scheduling such a highly anticipated address before a joint session of Congress. An address in the Oval Office could last less than 15 minutes, they said, but gathering both chambers of Congress means the president will have to present something substantial.

Substantial? Perhaps. But will Obama’s proposals be substantially different from his policies of the last two-plus years?

On the negative, you have the appointment of Alan Krueger as the president’s top economic advisor. As we’ve discussed before, here and on PJTV, Krueger is Austan Goolsbee is Christina Romer. I have a better track record on Obamanomics than any of these Ivy-pruned jokers. (Also see here and here.) And it’s not like the president has announced a cabinet shakeup or fired any of his army of czars.


It’s not looking too good so far.

On the plus side, Drudge is right to call it “PANIC” when he links to this bit of good news:

President Barack Obama on Friday sacked a controversial proposed regulation tightening health-based standards for smog, bowing to the demands of congressional Republicans and some business leaders.

Obama overruled the Environmental Protection Agency and directed administrator Lisa Jackson to withdraw the proposal, in part because of the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and uncertainty for businesses at a time of rampant uncertainty about an unsteady economy.

You think if the economy had added 200,000 jobs in August, there’s any small chance Obama would have put the kibosh on anything out of his hyperactive EPA? It’s panic-time, all right. But the EPA is only a part of the administration’s job-killing equation. You see, there was a time in this dismal recovery when we were gaining 200,000 or more jobs a month. Ah, for the heady days in the first quarter of 2010:

The low point of the recession came in January 2009, when US employers shed 841,000 jobs in just that one month. But the economy slowly started to recover over the next 15 months; private employers began hiring workers at an average rate of 67,600 per month (net of layoffs). The economy’s high point came with the April 2010 report, when 229,000 jobs were added.

But ObamaCare was signed into law in late March, and the hiring freeze began. In the following months, the economy added an average of just 6,500 jobs per month (net of layoffs) — less than a tenth the pre-ObamaCare average.


The EPA and NLRB already have businesses spooked — simply reining them in won’t undo the damage already done. Obama needs to think about repealing the mess of rules, regulations and restrictions these two rogue agencies have promulgated the last two years. And EPA chief Lisa Jackson should be sacked and the NLRB dissolved. If Obama took those three actions, the effect on economic growth would be immediate and positive.

But business still can’t hire new workers unless they know what new workers will cost them — and that’s where ObamaCare comes in. We’re already a year-and-a-half into this labyrinthine mess, and still ObamaCare has yet to do anything but enforce the Law of Unintended Consequences. So if the president is serious about jobs, he needs to call on Congress to follow the Tea Party promise to “repeal and replace” his very own landmark legislation.

Now. What do you think are the odds of Obama doing that? I think you’ll find the answer somewhere between my two good friends, Slim and None.

The very best we can expect is a few more actions like today’s EPA slapdown. We might even hope that Obama might call for delaying the implementation of certain provisions of ObamaCare. That would help some — but that piper still must someday be paid.

If the president wants to take bold actions to get Americans working again, he knows what to do — what I’ve outlined here isn’t very imaginative and it certainly isn’t new. Next Thursday, the President has a choice — he can tack to Carter ’79 or Reagan ’81. Or he can try an split the difference and talk Reagan’s game while playing Carter’s.


Which way do you expect him to go?

UPDATE: It could be worse. The president could be reading Bill Saporito.

THE THING TO REMEMBER IS: There is no plan.


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