Feature:Opinion

The tragedy of Obama

Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. Obviously, President Obama never knew Albert Einstein. His so-called “jobs plan” and the accompanying legislation he sent to Congress is proof of that.

Once again, the president seeks a “stimulus” for the economy in the form of nearly a half trillion dollars in government spending and tax cuts. We’ve been through this before. It didn’t work in 2009 and 2010, and it won’t work now.

Remember the first stimulus? Remember how we urgently needed it to create jobs and rescue our economy? The president assured us that shoveling money into “shovel-ready” projects would boost the economy and create jobs — and prevent the unemployment rate from rising above 8 percent. It didn’t happen that way. Despite spending nearly $1 trillion, American jobs continued to be eliminated. The unemployment rate rose above 8 percent, then above 9 percent, and peaked at over 10 percent. It has remained above 9 percent for 27 of the past 29 months.

Then the president went on “60 Minutes” and said that he had learned there was no such thing as “shovel ready.” He actually said that!

The tragedy of Obama is that he simply doesn’t understand what the country needs. We need jobs, economic growth and leadership. He is an academic surrounded by eggheads. He theorizes when we need practical solutions. He is political when we need leadership.

Creating jobs is not an ivory-tower exercise. Business leaders have to take risks every day. But they make calculated risks. Bad risks can lead to bankruptcy. Risks have to be weighed against the potential for return. Uncertainty is the enemy. Uncertainty makes risk ill advised.

The Obama era is the era of uncertainty for businesses. More new regulations have been promulgated during the Obama administration’s first 30 months than during any other comparable period in American history. Obamacare creates tremendous uncertainty for job creators. The Dodd-Frank legislation is an assault on innovation in the financial sector with the result that banks, even those flush with cash, are not lending. Less lending smothers growth. The president has made it clear that he wants to raise taxes, causing business decision makers to wonder if their bottom lines will take another hit. The instability of the federal budget deficit is yet another huge problem.

All of this uncertainty makes risk-taking too dangerous. So, the economy flounders. The unemployed languish. The recession deepens.

A real jobs plan would provide certainty to business and bolster consumer confidence. The way forward is clear: place a moratorium on new government regulation, suspend the implementation of Obamacare, reform the tax code to make it simple, cut taxes to put money into the economy, pass the three pending free trade agreements to increase our exports and embrace the recommendations of the Bowles-Simpson deficit-reduction plan (a plan written for the president at his request, by the way). Back up this straightforward plan with decisive leadership.

Good people are hurting all across the country. Bad public policy threatens the American dream. It shouldn’t take Einstein to figure this out. It’s tragic. Regrettably, Obama’s tragedy is also America’s tragedy.

Charles E. Kilbourne served in former Governor George E. Pataki’s administration. Subsequently, he has worked extensively in various capacities in the fields of international affairs and international economics. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Tufts University and a master’s degree from Georgetown University.