Disastrous Jobs Report Poses Question: What Is Obama’s Plan?

Today, for the first time since 1945, the monthly nonfarm payroll jobs report shows no change from the prior month. That means zero jobs created. The Dow plunged 2% on the news. President Obama has now been in office for more than two and one-half years, during two years of which time the Democrats had complete control of Congress. It is obvious to everyone–it must even be obvious to him–that his economic policies have been a complete failure (assuming their purpose was to help the economy grow, rather than pursue collateral objectives like nationalizing health care).

Obama will deliver what is promised to be a major speech on jobs next week. Some say he will offer bold new proposals; maybe he will try to explain why he didn’t implement those proposals two years ago. We noted here that the administration was about to submit–belatedly–its Midsession Budget Review. By law, that review is to include revised estimates of receipts, outlays, budget authority and budget deficits which take into account changes in the economic outlook, etc., that “the President decides are necessary and appropriate based on current information.” So many observers anticipated that Obama’s Midsession Budget Review would offer important information about the basis for his new proposals.

The administration submitted its midsession review yesterday, and it revealed nothing. The Senate Budget Committee–that part of it that still functions, i.e., the minority–reported:

Since President Obama attempted to distance himself from his February budget in April—delivering a speech in which he claimed the existence of a “framework” to reduce deficits by $4 trillion over the next 12 years—one might reasonably expect that this year’s MSR would include those alleged policy changes in order achieve the deficit reduction goal set forth. Further, given that the president has said our urgent economic situation necessitates the delivery of another speech next week, one might anticipate that the MSR would incorporate the cost of that yet-unseen plan in the Mid-Session Review.

In fact, the president’s MSR does neither of those things. Its fiscal policies can be summed up as follows:

• Accept the discretionary caps enacted in the Budget Control Act ($900 billion),
• Assume the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction achieves its deficit reduction goal ($1.5 trillion), and
• Raise income and estate taxes from current law levels ($1 trillion)—a proposal already contained in his February budget.

Thus, the president’s MSR recycles his February budget—ignoring the promises of deficit reduction from his various speeches—updated only to include the recent debt limit deal enacted by Congress. In reality, the only plan the president has on paper remains the February budget, which would have grown the debt by $13 trillion over 10 years and which was discarded unanimously in the Senate. This is in addition to the $5 trillion in gross debt the president will have added during his first three years in office. …

Failure to provide policy details in the context of the statutorily required budget update both undermines the budget process—which requires sufficient disclosure for the Congress to evaluate and dispose of the president’s proposals—and impedes the progress of the JSC, which now will lose valuable time waiting for the president’s recommendations. The MSR also makes clear (pgs. 3–4) that the deficit reduction plan is separate from the economic growth and jobs program that the president will unveil next week—and likely will be financed only by additional debt since it is not a part of the JSC’s deliberations.

This is just one more instance of the shocking incompetence the Obama administration has displayed with regard to budgetary and economic matters. It seems obvious that President Obama has nothing to offer but fuzzy math, more spending, and ever-increasing deficits.

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