Two years ago, President Barack Obama, perhaps sensing from GOP gains in the 2010 elections that voters hadn’t been overwhelmed by his economic accomplishments, announced with considerable fanfare the creation of a jobs council comprising leaders of such prestigious businesses as General Electric, American Express and Boeing. The members were supposed to advise Mr. Obama — who has almost no private-sector work experience — how to boost job creation.
Once the panel was named, months passed with little evidence of activity. During the next two years, the panel met with Mr. Obama four times — the last coming a year ago. In the president’s absence, the panel staged 18 “listening and action sessions” nationwide, The Wall Street Journal reports. One of the group’s few concrete proposals was to advise the White House to exclude overseas corporate earnings from U.S. taxes. Far from embracing the recommendation of his own jobs council, Mr. Obama proceeded to bash GOP challenger Mitt Romney about the head and shoulders for making just such a proposal during last year’s campaign.
“It was designed to maximize show-business value and minimize policy value,” Kevin Hassett, director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, told the newspaper. “It’s almost a universal truth that councils like this are mostly for show.”
It appears the jobs council has now accomplished its goal. Creating new jobs? Hardly. Unemployment remains at a stubborn 7.9 percent nationally — twice that if we count discouraged workers who have given up their job searches and underemployed part-timers who want full-time income. New payroll positions in January tallied 157,000, barely enough to keep up with population growth. The U.S. economy actually shrank in the fourth quarter of 2012.
None of this seems to concern Mr. Obama, whose bold second-term agenda envisions more giant strides for big government, from climate change to gun control, while barely mentioning private-sector job creation.
No, the job of the jobs panel was to contribute enough window dressing to help assure Mr. Obama’s re-election. On Jan. 31, the council’s two-year charter expired without renewal.