In 2009, in his very first address to Congress, President Obama promised an “agenda that begins with jobs.” “Now is the time to act boldly and wisely,” he said, “to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity.”
It was a great thought. Jobs and economic growth should have been the main, nay only, focus of President Obama’s term. But it never has been. Instead Americans have had to endure endless pivots, as the president promises to refocus his attention to jobs.
In the 2010 State of the Union Obama tacitly acknowledged that his focus on health care took away from an emphasis on job creation. “Jobs must be our number one focus in 2010,” Obama said. Later in the year he said that “our biggest challenge right now is creating jobs and making sure the economy takes off.”
“Our number one focus has to be jobs…jobs, jobs,” Obama joked. The very next month President Obama was at it again, saying, “we are past the crisis point, but we now have to pivot and focus on jobs.
And in 2011, after the parties had come to an agreement on the debt ceiling, Obama was back announcing an agreement “that will allow us to turn to the very important business of doing everything we can to create jobs. . . that’s what we should be devoting all our time to accomplishing in the months ahead.”
Sadly, those lamentations are as true today as they were then. The economic slump has now entered year six with no clear sign of abating. The economy is creating jobs, but not nearly at a rate fast enough to put a dent in unemployment. The long-term jobless, many of whom are young adults, continue to be a problem, threatening to create a lost generation of unskilled workers.
And yet President Obama failed to even mention jobs or the economy in his second Inaugural Address. What should have been a perfect opportunity for him to naturally pivot to the most important issue on American’s minds was instead wasted trying to pick a fight with the GOP. As the Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore said on Fox Business:
“In the whole speech he didn’t talk about jobs, he did not talk about private business and entrepreneurs in the free enterprise system. It was a very pro-government speech. Now the president has a big challenge ahead because we still have a near eight percent unemployment rate . . . as you know the job creation rate has been about 1/3 to ½ of what you would normally expect during an expansion.”
But after pivoting and pivoting President Obama apparently realized he was just going in circles, getting nowhere and beginning to look the fool. Rather than, ya know, actually commit to a jobs agenda—something that would force a reexamination of his big-government dreams—he’s opted to simply ignore jobs altogether. Instead he’ll seek to distract Americans with ideological pursuits aimed not at uniting Americans, as he promised to do in his first Inaugural Address, but at controversial topics designed to tear apart the Republican Party at the seams.
Namely, he verbally committed his next four years to expanding government, not expanding jobs (or liberty). “This speech today was an ode to big government,” said Charles Krauthammer on Fox News. “It was a hymn to big government.”
It was evident in his focus on the need for government intervention to reduce global warming, to intervene in the market for renewable energy, to determine the parameters of the 2nd Amendment, and, most importantly, to refuse any reforms to Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. This was a president who cares not a lick about the deficit or about the economy, but instead sees his legacy as protecting and growing a liberal vision for America.
“Today we continue a never-ending journey, to bridge the meaning of those words [From the Declaration of Independence] with the realities of our time,” Obama said. It was a regretfully overlooked line from his address, for it foretells that Obama sees himself as that bridge. It implies that the wisdom of the Founders must be adapted and interpreted to fit a changed society, and that Obama is the sole interpreter.
As it stands America will have to hope and pray for one last pivot – a move away from Obama’s focus on rebuilding the “Era of Big Government” to rebuilding the American economy. Sadly, I’m not holding my breath.