Clinton tweaks Obama

President Obama couldn't have been happy this week when former President Bill Clinton emerged to much fanfare with a plan -- published in this week's edition of Newsweek -- called "14 Ways to Put America Back to Work."

Surely Mr. Clinton knew he was sticking his thumb in Mr. Obama's eye, just as the current chief executive struggles with a moribund economy and high unemployment.

For Bill Clinton to do this, "at this time, in this way, as the campaign is under way and everybody knows jobs is the number one issue -- it sends a real message to the White House," said Byron York of the Washington Examiner, indicating that "the Clinton/Obama rivalry is not dead ... They fought this enormous war in 2008, and it hasn't completely settled over."

Mr. Clinton's penchant for the limelight aside, his plan is a major disappointment, full of dubious green energy initiatives and heavy-handed government proposals to subsidize politically correct "winners" by taxing everyone else.

Yes, Mr. Clinton says he wants to thin the regulatory thicket and reduce corporate tax rates, yet the devil is in the details.

For instance, Mr. Clinton wants to "keep the full review process when there are real environmental concerns, but when there aren't, the federal government should be able to give a waiver to the states to speed up ... projects."

To "the states"? Is he talking only about government projects? And who would get to decide when there aren't "real environmental concerns"? Have the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity agreed to refrain from suing?

As for tax rates, Mr. Clinton acknowledges that America needs to cut corporate taxes. But that's followed by his inevitable call for "broadening the tax base so that all of them pay a reasonable amount of tax on their profits" -- which sounds suspiciously like a corporate version of the Alternative Minimum Tax, which has driven so many successful entrepreneurs into early retirement, if not outright expatriation.

"The most thought-out and specific" of these proposals, writes Joseph Lawler of The American Spectator, "seem like they were taken out of Barack Obama's 2008 campaign, especially the five that are 'green' initiatives ...

"The idea that the government could put unemployed people to work on green jobs to the benefit of the economy was fatuous in 2008," Mr. Lawler writes. "That Clinton doesn't have any better ideas now ... is frightening, if it's any indication of what the Democrats and Obama are thinking."