Updated: January 7, 2014 6:28AM
Once again, President Barack Obama turned his attention to the economy through the lens of income inequality. As real as this issue is, Obama has devoted more oratory to the economy than work, Obama-economics are a big part of the problem, and there’s little evidence that the president has an appreciation, or worse, understanding, of how business operates.
From the start of his administration, Obama overwhelmingly focused not on jobs but on health care, culminating in the passage of the Affordable Care Act. And from the beginning, it was obvious that the law’s many regulations, taxes and mandates imposed costs on business that retarded hiring and investment.
Only more recently have Americans come to realize that Obamacare also is a wealth redistribution mechanism, forcing higher costs, unneeded and unwanted coverage, and restricted physician and hospital access on the middle class to pay for providing insurance to those who previously didn’t have it.
Redistribution, or “spread the wealth around” as candidate Obama famously put, is central to the president’s economic outlook. But wealth has to be created. Government can’t do that. Jobs and economic prosperity are the product of entrepreneurs and business people pursuing self interest and profits.
Much of the economic growth that has occurred during the Obama presidency came from individuals and companies doing just that in the energy fracking revolution that occurred away from government interference on private land, not federal property. Obama can’t even bring himself to support fossil fuel energy jobs by doing something as simple as approving the Keystone pipeline to carry petroleum from Canadian oil sand fields to Gulf Coast refineries.
An early Obama feint toward the job issue came in his $800 billion stimulus bill supposedly brimming with “shovel-ready” projects to put Americans back to work. After the failure of that law, Obama acknowledged that he had learned “there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects.”
When millions of insurance policies were canceled despite the president’s Obamacare promise that Americans could keep the policies they like, Obama admitted, “What we’re also discovering is that insurance is complicated to buy.”
Might have been nice to find out about that before crafting legislation affecting a sixth of the economy.
The collapse of the Obamacare website only underlined his lack of understanding of the management skills that make a business work.
The stock market is a vital source of capital to invest in business and thus jobs, but Wall Street responds to government signals. The Fed’s easy money policy — and obviously Obama supports it since he’s nominated an advocate of it to be the new Fed chief — have sent investors to stocks, commodities and emerging markets overseas. The affluent profit, but few U.S. jobs are created.
Income inequality is a real problem, complicated by globalization that rewards entrepreneur and management skills while seeking low labor costs. But a robustly growing U.S. economy is certainly part of the answer. Obama’s economically clueless policies give us slow growth and persistent high unemployment.