What? Another Department of Jobs?


ACRU Staff


August 16, 2011

This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Ken Blackwell was published August 16, 2011 on The Huffington Post.

Floundering. Flopping around like a fish on deck. That’s the best description of the Obama administration this summer. The president’s now on a bus tour of the Heartland. Next, he’s slated to go to Martha’s Vineyard for a well-earned vacation.

He’s done about all the damage he can do for one summer, so let’s give him a break. The media shows the president stepping smartly off Air Force One or briskly scaling the stairway up to Air Force One. It’s intended to impress us and it does impress. Until you recall that that’s $187,000 an hour to fuel and fly the jumbo jet, all added to our national debt.

Earlier this month, President Obama announced a new program for returning veterans. In his “Weekly Radio Address,” he called it “a reverse boot camp.” A what? What does that mean? Boot camp, as everyone knows, is designed to whip you into shape, to get you ready for the rigors of military service. So, what’s a reverse boot camp? To reverse that process would do what? Get you out of shape? Make you less prepared for your role? Leave you a couch potato? It cannot mean wear your boots in reverse.

Who writes this stuff, anyway? The president’s speechwriter makes $172,200 a year. Maybe we could start trimming the deficit there. Barack Obama is on record saying he’s a better speechwriter than his speechwriters. If this is what that speechwriter comes up with, Mr. Obama could hardly do worse.

Now making the rounds is this howler: The president is planning to unveil his new jobs proposals — in September. Why wait until after Labor Day? Wouldn’t it be neat to think, as we approach Labor Day, that the administration had a forward-looking plan in place right now? I think the 25 million unemployed or underemployed Americans would be especially excited to hear of a plan before they have to shell out for the kids’ new school shoes.

One of the trial balloons currently being floated is that the president will announce a new Department of Jobs. This has got to be a joke. Here’s a paragraph on the U.S. Department of Labor. It details the history of this federal agency, now approaching its one hundredth year of existence:

The organic act establishing the Department of Labor was signed on March 4, 1913, by a reluctant President William Howard Taft, the defeated and departing incumbent, just hours before Woodrow Wilson took office. A Federal Department of Labor was the direct product of a half-century campaign by organized labor for a “Voice in the Cabinet,” and an indirect product of the Progressive Movement. In the words of the organic act, the Department’s purpose is “to foster, promote and develop the welfare of working people, to improve their working conditions, and to enhance their opportunities for profitable employment.”

Reads pretty much like a Jobs Department to me. Has anyone talked to Labor Sec. Hilda Solis about any new “Jobs Department?” What is she supposed to do, how is she supposed to labor, if we have another Jobs Department?

Then, of course, we have the U.S. Commerce Department. The Mission Statement of this department makes it sound like it, too, is a Jobs Department.

The U.S. Department of Commerce promotes job creation, economic growth, sustainable development and improved standards of living for all Americans by working in partnership with businesses, universities, communities and our nation’s workers.

Reading these official statements — cranked out by people whose salaries we all pay — reminds us of Ronald Reagan’s famous line. The closest thing to eternal life we will see on this earth is a government program.

If the function of the U.S. Secretary of Commerce is to promote job creation and economic growth, it sure seems that — how can I say this charitably? — this distinguished public servant has been falling down on the job of late. Like the last two and a half years.

If I were Mr. Obama’s Commerce Secretary, I’d want to get out of town, and fast. In fact, that’s exactly what Sec. Gary Locke did. Having done such yeoman’s work in promoting job creation and economic growth here, Gary Locke was recently sworn in as our Ambassador to China.

Now, there’s a jobs plan! If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Ambassador Locke can now observe job creation and economic growth from a unique vantage point: Beijing.

As he unpacks in China’s Forbidden City, I suggest that Amb. Locke enter into meaningful dialog with the Chinese about U.S. exports. Maybe he can persuade them to buy more American flounder. We have entirely too much American floundering here and on Martha’s Vineyard.



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