Magical thinking on jobs 

Washington liberals are full of unorthodox ideas about our economic plight and how to create jobs. They simply attached the jobs issue to policies they have long supported. And from all appearances, they genuinely believe these policies will accelerate growth in jobs.

Here are a few examples:

- Barbara Lee, a House member from California, is upset about computerized checkout lines at grocery stores. She avoids lines with no flesh-and-blood checker. “I refuse to do that,” Lee said at a House Appropriations Committee hearing. “I know that’s a job or two or three that’s gone.”

- Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois is up in arms about the iPad, which he declared on the House floor recently is “now probably responsible for eliminating thousands of jobs. … What becomes of bookstores and librarians and all the jobs associated with paper?” Quite soon, he said, “such jobs will simply not exist.”

- Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota is the champion of job creation by adding to the regulatory burden of businesses. Sounds counterproductive, right? Not so, Ellison told MSNBC. Companies will have to hire more people to comply with new regs. “If the government says, look, we have got to reduce our carbon footprint, you will kick into gear a whole number of people that know how to do that or have ideas about that, and that will be a job engine,” Ellison said.

If regulations lead to greater employment, “the economy should be in danger of overheating right about now,” Investor’s Business Daily noted. The Obama administration has set a record for issuing the most regulations in the shortest period of time, yet unemployment is stuck at 9.1 percent and the economy flirts with dipping back into recession.

President Barack Obama believes government-created jobs will lead to stronger economic growth. This explains his current jobs bill.  But the president has his economics upside-down.

In real life, the only reliable way to produce permanent jobs is through private investment that increases economic growth. The point here is that growth comes first, and jobs follow.

 “Our economy needs a jolt,” Obama said in Pittsburgh last week. Yet every measure in his bill has been tried at least once and failed to bring about a jobs-rich recovery.

How does he explain this? He doesn’t. Rather, he points to unnamed “independent economists” who’ve concluded his bill “would grow this economy and put people back to work. … And no other jobs plan,” he says, “has that kind of support from economists — no plan from Congress, no plan from anybody.”

So why hasn’t the White House trotted out a platoon of economists to endorse this bill publicly? The fact is that except for Keynesian diehards such as Paul Krugman, the bill has received minimal backing from economists.

The president wants to end tax breaks and increase tax rates for the 1 percent, the plutocrats. “Would we rather maintain these tax breaks for the wealthiest few, or should we give tax cuts to the entrepreneurs who might need it to start that business [or] launch that new idea they’ve got?” he asked in Pittsburgh.

Lost here is a simple economic truth. It’s mostly the 1 percent that bankrolls the entrepreneurs or are the entrepreneurs themselves. Tax them more, and you’re likely to get fewer jobs. But you’ll still have a villain to whip.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard, where this article appeared.

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Fred Barnes


Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard

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