The Dems phony jobs debate

Robert J. Samuelson:

"We are having a ferocious jobs debate, most of it fraudulent. If presidents could easily create jobs, the unemployment rate would rarely exceed 3.5 percent. But all they can usually do is influence the economy through taxes, spending and regulatory decisions -- and hope that job growth follows. In our market system, private employers play the pivotal role. They will add jobs only if: (a) demand justifies new workers; (b) labor costs aren't at unprofitable levels; and (c) they think healthy economic conditions will last. Electing a president based on job creation makes as much sense as selecting a doctor based on palm reading.

"The jobs rhetoric captures politics' casual cynicism. John Kerry and John Edwards must grasp a president's modest job-creating powers; otherwise, they wouldn't be fit for the White House. Their jobs obsession is dishonest expediency. They know President Bush is vulnerable. To be fair, the deceit is bipartisan. The Bush administration is ready to claim credit for almost any good economic news.

"The contrast with Iraq is instructive. The administration is accused of falsifying the case for war by distorting the intelligence on weapons of mass destruction. This alleged dishonesty is a legitimate issue. But no one considers it dishonorable to blame a president falsely for job loss (or to credit him falsely for job gains). The dishonesty is so routine that it's respectable. The press abets the hoax because it must report what candidates say and because it favors campaign combat over substance."

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