By Howard Rich – With deteriorating economic conditions putting a damper on his poll numbers and jeopardizing his 2012 re-election prospects, Barack Obama now portrays himself as a free-market leader for a change.
Yet while he poses for pictures with CEOs and unveils a private-sector “jobs plan,” his administration remains fundamentally committed to sabotaging the American marketplace at every turn.
In North Carolina this week, Obama accepted the recommendations of his jobs council — corporate leaders who were asked to provide new economic ideas. What he got instead was a hodge-podge of recycled reforms — including an unspecified reduction in red tape, a pledge to expand financing for small businesses and another round of “energy efficiency” initiatives aimed at creating those “green jobs” he’s so fond of talking about.
“What we want for growth is that it be centered in the private sector,” Obama’s chief economist said earlier this month. “We’ve got to do what we can to get the private sector leading the recovery.”
Really? Obama certainly didn’t want the private sector “leading the recovery” when he pushed through a massive bureaucratic bailout shortly after taking office — nor did he want it “leading the recovery” when he scored new government rules over Wall Street.
Also, what about socialized medicine, the elimination of welfare reform and the bailouts of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? Obviously the private sector wasn’t “leading the recovery” as it relates to any of those proposals either. And make no mistake — for all of his recent photo ops with corporate chieftains, Obama has absolutely no intention of letting the private sector lead the way now.
According to a recent National Economic Research Associates study, the regulatory assault on the energy industry planned by Obama’s EPA would destroy four private-sector jobs for every “green job” it creates. It would also raise the cost of electricity in this country by up to 23 percent.
Obviously these higher energy prices and job losses are going to hurt everyone — but this time traditional Obama allies will feel the sting too. For example, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers — usually a staunch supporter of the administration — has acknowledged that the new EPA regulations would kill as many as 250,000 jobs.
Meantime, the United Mine Workers of America is predicting that “tens of thousands of jobs will be lost in the utility, coal and transportation sectors” as a result of the new regulations.
“Just as our economy is beginning to climb out of the deepest recession since the Great Depression, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing a variety of new rules that will inevitably lead to large-scale unemployment and massive rate hikes over the next several years,” UMWA President Cecil Roberts said recently.
Meantime, Obama’s National Labor Relations Board is sending a chilling message to any company thinking about moving work to a more favorable economic climate.
With its lawsuit against aircraft manufacturer Boeing over the company’s decision to locate a 787 assembly plant in South Carolina, the NLRB is attempting to suppress job growth in right-to-work states — one of the most egregious perversions of labor law in American history. Even the newspaper in Seattle — a city that would derive tremendous economic benefit from the NLRB prevailing over Boeing — has recognized this intrusion on the free market for what it is.
“This newspaper favored the company building the second 787 line here,” editorial writers at the Seattle Times opined this week. “We want Boeing to build its next commercial jetliner here and all its commercial jetliners here. But that is Boeing’s decision to make, not the government’s.”
Obama is paying lip service to the private sector, but all the while his administration is deliberately hamstringing American companies by engaging in repressive regulation and litigation that run completely counter to his public pronouncements.
At a time when America desperately needs jobs, Obama’s NLRB is suing to keep them from being created. And at a time when Americans are struggling to pay their utility bills, his Environmental Protection Agency is seeking to implement the costliest new energy regulations in our nation’s history.
With the housing market in shambles, job growth dissipating, consumer confidence retreating and the global economy faltering, it is past time for the American private sector to start “leading the recovery.”
Unfortunately, we have a president who refuses to get out of the way and let the private sector do its job.
Howard Rich is chairman of Americans for Limited Government. This column was originally featured at Investors Business Daily.