Commentary on the Weekly Address

Well, it is that time of the week.  Time for the President to make his weekly address, and time for me to break down the content and read between the lines.

This week’s address was conveniently given in Minnesota, which gives the President cover for slipping in six fund raisers, and also provides a nice backdrop to talk about jobs, considering that this week’s job growth numbers were pretty pathetic.

Let the blame game begin!

Today I’m at one of Honeywell’s manufacturing facilities in Golden Valley, Minnesota, where I just announced a step that will make it easier for companies to hire returning service members who have the skills our country needs right now.  It’s another part of our effort to make sure that no American who fights for this country abroad has to fight for a job when they come home.  That’s why businesses like Honeywell are answering our challenge to hire 100,000 post-9/11 veterans and their spouses by the end of next year.  That’s why I’ve directed the government to hire over 200,000 veterans so far – because our economy needs their tremendous talent, and because millions of Americans are still looking for a job.

OK. I’ll give him that.  Businesses like to feel patriotic, too.  Hiring returning veterans not only makes business feel good, with a dose of post-WWII nostalgia, it’s also good for PR.

Right now, this country is still fighting our way back from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.  The economy is growing again, but it’s not growing fast enough.  Our businesses have created almost 4.3 million new jobs over the last twenty-seven months, but as we learned in this week’s jobs report, we’re not creating them fast enough.  And just like last year at this time, our economy faces some serious headwinds.  Gas prices are starting to come down again, but when they spiked over the last few months, it hit people’s wallets pretty hard.  The crisis in Europe’s economy has cast a shadow on our own.  And all of this makes it even more challenging to fully recover and lay the foundation for an economy that’s built to last.

Let’s start with this – “the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression” focus group line is getting old.  Every time he drags this line out (which is any time he’s talking about the economy or jobs), it is because he has nothing real to say about his own failures.  He just can’t bring himself to admit that his Keynesian economic theories are great on paper but a disaster in reality.  The only reason we aren’t imploding right now is because everyone is worried about Europe.  The U.S. Dollar is enjoying a flight to quality from Europe.  That won’t last forever.  It’s just a stay of execution.

But from the moment we first took action to prevent another depression, we knew the road to recovery wouldn’t be easy.  We knew it would take time, that there would be ups and downs along the way.  But we also knew that if we were willing to act wisely, and boldly, and together; if we were willing to keep at it, and never quit, we would come back stronger.

Nothing has shaken my faith in that belief.  We will come back stronger.  We do have better days ahead.  And that’s because of you.  I would place my bet on American workers and American businesses any day of the week.  You’re the reason our auto industry has come roaring back.  You’re the reason manufacturing is hiring at its fastest pace since the 1990s.  You work hard. You play by the rules. And what you deserve are leaders who will do the same; who will do whatever it takes to fight for the middle-class and grow this economy faster.

Nothing here but platitudes to make you all feel good, with a strong dose of patriotism.

Because while we can’t fully control everything that happens in other parts of the world, there are plenty of things we can control here at home.  There are plenty of steps we can take right now to help create jobs and grow this economy.

And that queues up the real issues.  Let’s see if he has anything good to say, of it’s more of the same-old-same-old.

I sent Congress a jobs bill last September full of the kinds of bipartisan ideas that would have put our fellow Americans back to work and helped reinforce our economy against those outside shocks.  I sent them a plan that would have reduced the deficit by $4 trillion in a way that’s balanced – that pays for the job-creating investments we need by cutting unnecessary spending and asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more in taxes.

How nice – he starts the real meat with telling us about a jobs bill that would have been another spending boondoggle.  For those of you that disagree, consider this: here he makes statements about reducing the deficit as if he is concerned about spending, when in actual fact, he has yet to get a budget passed by Congress.  Why?  Because it is so filled with spending that he can’t even get members of his own party to vote for it.

Since then, Congress has only passed a few parts of that jobs bill, like a tax cut that’s allowing working Americans to keep more of your paycheck every week.  That was important.

Note here that tax cut was a cut in the employee payroll tax – that’s not income taxes; it’s a cut in your Social Security contribution.  Last time I checked, Social Security was in danger of becoming insolvent because Congress has used it as a personal piggy bank and left behind a bunch of IOUs.  Do you really think that cutting Social Security contributions is a wise idea?  To me (and I study economics for a living), this is a last ditch effort to kick start the economy.  It’s like Congress saying, “I got nothin’.”  Mind you, the President pushed hard for this.

But Congress hasn’t acted on enough of the other ideas in that bill that would make a difference and help create jobs right now. And there’s no excuse for that.  Not when so many people are looking for work.  Not when so many people are struggling to pay the bills.

So my message to Congress is, get to work.

<sarcasm>That’s right, Mr. President, scold them like the schoolchildren they are.</sarcasm>  How about a little less time on the golf course and jetting around to your fund raisers, and you come up with some real ideas.  You want examples?  I have yet to see this administration construct a major bill sent to Congress.  His signature legislation was the healthcare bill and he basically told Nancy Pelosi to assemble all of the ideas.  He only acted as cheerleader.

This is a President that loves to lead, but his view of how to be a leader is not to lead by example, or put forth the work.  It is to stand up in front of the class, point the finger, and delegate away his responsibility.

Right now, Congress should pass a bill to help states prevent more layoffs, so we can put thousands of teachers and firefighters and police officers back on the job.  Congress should have passed a bill a long time ago to put thousands of construction workers back on the job rebuilding our roads and our bridges and our runways.  Instead of just talking a good game about job creators, Congress should give small business owners a tax break for hiring more workers and paying them higher wages.  Let’s get that done.

Throwing money at things that are mismanaged doesn’t fix them.  Focused tax breaks and incentives are a good thing, but I have yet to see this administration put one forward that is going to work.  As any business knows, they are going to get a tax break for hiring a worker already because it reduces their bottom line.  If they are not hiring, it’s because they don’t see opportunity for growth.  In order to expand hiring, businesses need to see that it is going to be needed and sustainable.  No one sees that right now because this President doesn’t know how to create that environment.

Right now, Congress should give every responsible homeowner the opportunity to save an average of $3,000 a year by refinancing their mortgage.  Next week, there’s a vote in Congress on a bill that would give working women the tools they need to demand equal pay for equal work.  Ensuring paycheck fairness for women should be a no brainer.  And they need to pass that bill.

Interesting how we have seen that Democrats in Congress are some of the worst offenders of the equal pay for women mantra, paying their women staffers less and their male counterparts.

Besides, this is not really a bill that is needed for any other purpose than as a campaign tool.  It sounds great in speeches but is redundant legislation that adds to the burden of an already challenging business environment.

Right now, Congress also needs to extend the tax credits for clean energy manufacturers that are set to expire at the end of the year – so that we don’t walk away from 40,000 good jobs.

Because Solyndra worked out so well?  Seriously, how much is it going to cost for those 40,000 jobs?  Do the math and you’ll find that it would be cheaper for Congress to write a check directly to the workers to stay home.

And it’s long past time for Congress to end the tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, and use that money to cover moving expenses for companies that are bringing jobs back to America.

Another great focus group statement without basis in reality.

It’s not lost on anyone, least of all me, that this is an election year.  But we’ve got responsibilities that are bigger than an election.  We’ve got responsibilities to you.  With so many people struggling to get by, now is not the time to play politics.  Now is not the time for Congress to sit on its hands.  The American people expect their leaders to work hard, no matter what year it is.  That’s what I intend to do.  And I expect Democrats and Republicans to join me.

I have yet to see this President work hard at anything other than blaming others for his own failures mixed with a healthy dose of golf.  Yes, it is painfully obvious that this is an election year Mr. President.  Flying to Minnesota so you could give the weekly address from there was a convenient way to slip in SIX fund raisers along the way.  If that’s not playing politics, I don’t know what is.

Put forward a real jobs bill and a real budget, and maybe people will start believing that you know what you are doing.  Until then, it is quite evident that you are in over your head and you either don’t know it or won’t admit it.