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State of the Union Preview: Where Are the Jobs?

As President Obama prepares to deliver his latest State of the Union address, he and his advisers are no doubt spending a great deal of time trying to find the right words to explain his abysmal record on the economy. The president has proven he can deliver a great speech, but he continues to disappoint on the issue that matters most: Jobs. Despite what we may hear tomorrow night, a close look at just some of the actions of his administration over the last three years helps reveal the reality behind the rhetoric. 

A Costly Government Takeover of Health Care 

In 2009, roughly four million jobs were lost as the fallout from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression gripped the country. Remarkably, Democrats in Washington spent that year ignoring the nation’s jobs crisis and instead advanced a costly government takeover of health care. The president promised his ideas for reform would lower health care costs for the average family by $2,500. Yet, a recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation reveals that the average family experienced a nine percent jump in premium costs last year alone.   

As health care costs go up, so do the pressures facing job creators. Since Democrats jammed ObamaCare through Congress, employers have been grappling with the uncertainty of the law’s new mandates and regulations. Through numerous congressional oversight hearings, employers have expressed their concerns with the law and the tough choices they now have to make. For example, one employer described how full-time workers may need to accept part-time employment in order to “protect existing jobs.”  

An Activist National Labor Relations Board 

What else can be said about the Obama labor board that hasn’t already been said? The radical decisions of the NLRB are dedicated toward one goal: Promoting a culture of union favoritism at the expense of workers and employers. A rundown of the NLRB’s job destroying agenda offers a disturbing snapshot of the havoc unleashed in recent years, including more restrictions on workers’ right to a secret ballot and new efforts to dictate where job creators can locate work.   

By making so-called recess appointments to the board, the president has put his stamp of approval on this job-destroying agenda. Meanwhile, reforms that defend the rights of workers and employers – passed by the House of Representatives with bipartisan support – are waiting for action in the Democrat-led Senate. 

More Burdensome Regulations

Today, federal regulations are a $1.75 trillion dollar annual burden on the nation’s economy, which is why the pace of new regulations set by the Obama administration has been so astounding. In August of last year, it was revealed that the administration was busy working on more than 4,250 regulations, with 219 carrying an economic impact of $100 million or more. And it seems this administration was just getting warmed up.

In a regulatory “agenda” released today, the Department of Labor lists 61 regulatory proposals. One example is a controversial proposal by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that may impose a significant new burden on American employers. According to Workforce Protections Subcommittee Chairman Tim Walberg (R-MI), the so-called Injury and Illness Prevention Program would “require employers to write comprehensive safety and health plans” in addition to “the countless pages of existing rules and paperwork” they already face. However, a draft report released by the RAND Corporation found that a similar program in California has had little impact on worker safety

No New Ideas to Improve Job Training Assistance

Last year, the Government Accountability Office identified 47 separate job training programs spread across nine federal agencies that cost taxpayers $18 billion annually. This complicated maze of bureaucracy undermines the support job seekers need and wastes taxpayer dollars. Unfortunately, with more than 13 million workers unemployed, President Obama hasn’t offered any real plan that will help untangle this bureaucratic mess. His most recent endeavor to reorganize the federal government fails to address job training assistance. In fact, his most recent stimulus spending plan released last September calls for even more programs and $9 billion in new spending. 

Spending, Spending, and More Spending

Since taking office, President Obama has exacerbated the country’s fiscal crisis. Not only did he promise to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term, the president also promised that $825 billion in stimulus spending would keep unemployment below 8 percent. Sadly, the national debt now stands at a staggering $15.2 trillion, this year’s federal deficit is on track to hit nearly $1 trillion, and unemployment sits above 8 percent for the 35th straight month.

In a letter to the president, 150 economists from around the country write that to “support real economic growth and support the creation of private-sector jobs, immediate action is needed to rein in federal spending.” The question remains: Will the president heed their commonsense advice, or double down on more spending and debt?

While House Republicans keep their pledge to make job creation a top priority, it is time for the president to deliver more than just broken promises and empty rhetoric.  

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