Obama is all talk when it comes to the economy

Michael Barone:
We have a president who loves to give campaign speeches to adoring crowds, but who doesn’t seem to have much interest in governing.

That was apparent Wednesday, when Barack Obama delivered the first of several promised “pivot to the economy” speeches at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., where he spoke eight years ago as a newly elected US senator.

The hour-long speech started off with some characteristic self-referencing — he didn’t have gray hair then, he noted, or a motorcade — and ended with a quotation from Galesburg native Carl Sandburg. In between there wasn’t much in the way of serious public policy. Nothing much that seems likely to speed up the nation’s sluggish economic growth or to increase the lowest-in-three-decades labor force participation.

Obama called for increasing the minimum wage. That always tests well in polls. But in real life it tends not to create but to destroy jobs, especially for young people with few skills and little work experience.

He also called for job retraining, a Community College to Career Initiative. Studies have shown for years that government job-training programs aren’t very effective. And the administration and congressional Democrats have been launching attacks on for-profit higher education firms, many of which do a better job of equipping young people for the job market.

Obama mentioned in passing his administration’s efforts to connect 99 percent of students to high-speed Internet. But it’s not a lack of connectivity that’s holding the economy back.

The president said more about his proposal for universal pre-school education. But the administration’s own studies have shown that the four-decades-old Head Start program produces little in the way of lasting educational gains.

This looks more like an expensive attempt to create more jobs for teacher-union members — and more union-dues money to help elect Democrats — than a serious attempt to stimulate the economy.

Amazingly, Obama called for more money to create jobs in wind and solar energy. No mention was made of the hundreds of millions in loan guarantees lavished on now-bankrupt Solyndra and A123 Systems.

To that list he added natural gas. But the boom in natural gas has occurred more despite, not because of administration policies.
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The line that has created the most buzz was his bogus assertion about "phony scandals."  That has led to a new round of denunciation from the families of the dead and the victims of abuse.  It was a throw away line that has overwhelmed his intended message and reminded people of how inept his administration has been.

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