Obama’s Jobs speech should have been no surprise to anyone. In fact, the only thing that was surprising was how redundant and tedious it was. “You must pass this bill now,” he said at least half a dozen times, suggesting that he expected to fast track the legislation without debate or criticism.
He did channel FDR with offers to put Americans back to work rebuilding roads and bridges. However, FDR created 11-12 million jobs through massive spending on the order of $1-2 trillion in today’s dollars. Obama, in contrast, is only offering a few hundred billion. By appealing to Republicans with the promise that the legislation will not cost a penny, he ensured that the best he will accomplish is maintaining a status quo of stagnant growth and relatively high unemployment.
This was probably Obama’s last opportunity to do anything to actually help struggling Americans and he blew the opportunity, thus ensuring that by election time he will be as unpopular as he is today. He essentially dug his own grave by not offering a plan that was much more bold and aggressive.
The aspect of his plan that should be of most concern to working Americans, however, is his commitment to cutting payroll taxes for businesses that start hiring. He said there were only two conditions for this gift: businesses must create jobs and do it in the communities most in need. However, this leaves open the possibility that the jobs will be dangerous, low paid, tedious, short-term and lacking in benefits.
In fact, Obama’s jobs bill sounds a lot like a plan to exploit the large army of unemployed workers to drive down wages and working conditions for everyone else.