You know the old fable about the scorpion and the frog, and how the frog is nice enough to help the scorpion cross the river on its back even though it‘s certain the scorpion will kill him, and the scorpion promises that he won‘t so the frog does it, and the scorpion does poison the frog midstream and they both drown, and the scorpion apologizes by saying that he couldn‘t help himself because it was just his nature?
Well, that‘s just a long-winded way of saying that no matter what President Barack Obama says, he‘s like the scorpion. He might say he‘s seen the light and believes the American economy is his Number One priority. He might say he‘s learned his lesson and that he‘s going to end partisanship on health care “reform.” He might even start reading notes off his hand instead of his Teleprompter. But in the end, he‘s still Barack Obama, a politician from Chicago who knows only one way of doing business.
Take the economy. The United States is now in the 27th month of an economic recession that has cost our nation more than 8 million jobs — and trillions of dollars worth of government spending has failed to turn things around.
If Obama has seen the light, you‘d assume he‘d turn away from his Keynesian playbook, and maybe consider going to the policies that pulled our nation out of the last economic ditch we were in: lower taxes, fewer regulations, and less government. But instead it‘s more of the same.
But as with so much of Obama‘s worldview, the policies are only half the problem. The other half is the people he puts in place to put those policies into action. Remember Van Jones of environmental policy fame? How about Susan Crawford of Internet policy fame? Well guess what? Obama hasn‘t learned his lesson, and he‘s putting the same kind of people in place to “work” on the economy.
Nicole Lamb-Hale, for example, was recently confirmed as Obama‘s Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Manufacturing. Ms. Lamb-Hale‘s job is to represent U.S. manufacturers to the world — although as a bankruptcy attorney she has no real experience in the manufacturing industry. In fact, her primary qualification appears to be that she went to law school with the President.
According to the National Association of Manufacturers, this vital segment of our economy lost nearly 2 million jobs over the 19-month period between December 2007 and July 2009, with additional job losses forecast for 2010.
Given the immense challenges U.S. manufacturers are facing, what kind of message does a President send when he puts a bankruptcy lawyer in charge of the manufacturing sector? It‘s comparable to appointing a tax cheat to run the Treasury… oh… wait… never mind. In fact, the Lamb-Hale hire is about as nonsensical as a plan to levy during this great period of economic uncertainty an additional half-trillion dollars in corporate taxes — which is what Obama‘s budget proposes.
Speaking of taxes, Obama‘s appointment of Mary L. Smith as Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice‘s tax division is another troubling choice. Smith has been nominated for one of the most important tax policy positions in Washington — despite the fact that she has no prior experience in tax law. Not only does Smith lack a degree in her field and relevant experience with IRS tax cases, she admitted during her Congressional testimony that she personally hasn‘t tried a tax case in her life — ever. Smith also acknowledged under questioning that she hasn‘t taken any continuing legal education classes on tax-law issues, either. This is the person who is supposed to head up the Justice Department‘s tax division?
It‘s these kinds of hires — and there are plenty more in the confirmation cue waiting for their chance to do Obama‘s bidding — that just confirms Obama‘s true character. In all things he does it‘s the Chicago way: just “Rahm” like-minded cronies and acolytes through the process no matter what the cost, and hope the American people don‘t notice the damage that results.
If President Obama has truly seen the light and understands that jobs and the economy are what matters most to the American people, he‘ll at least make an effort to allow the free market to provide some of the solutions to lift the United States out of its economic troubles. And as for jobs? Well, first he can put in place some policies that allow the private sector to create real jobs in real communities across America. After that, putting a lot more of his Administration‘s hires and prospective hires like Lamb-Hale and Smith out on the street looking for new jobs of their own, wouldn‘t hurt either.