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The President's Helpless Jobs Council

12:00 AM, Oct 15, 2011 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
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Not all of the Council’s suggestions are equally risible. There are ideas for tax breaks for entrepreneurial start-ups and “angel” investors who often fund new businesses, relaxation of visa restrictions so that rich Chinese visitors can more easily descend on our malls, and various training programs to upgrade workers’ skills so that they can fill currently available job openings.

All in all, a damp squib, unlikely to do very much to make a dent in the 9.1 percent unemployment rate. Not a word here, or from the president, about the effect of the looming cost burden of Obamacare on small businesses’ willingness to hire. Nor about the effect on confidence of the president’s new round of class warfare against “millionaires and billionaires” and “fat cats.”

Perhaps the Council’s wisest comment is that “there is no one ‘silver bullet’ to create jobs.” What is needed is some sense that the political class not only nods favorably in the direction of any new job creating proposals, but that it acts on the more sensible ones. No one disagrees with the Council’s call for a reduction in the regulations that are stifling growth. The president agrees, but despite his widely publicized decision to sidetrack a few proposed regulations—due to be put back on track after the 2012 election—his regulatory bandwagon rolls on. Over 4,000 new regulations are in the pipeline, awaiting approval.

No one disagrees with the observation that small businesses are the engines of jobs creation, with the successful ones, the so-called gazelles, leading the way. Or that they at some point need access to bank credit. But risk averse bank examiners make it dangerous for banks to extend credit to fledgling enterprises.

No one with any economic nous disagrees that the best policy would be to postpone austerity until the economy shows signs of life, but make a credible promise now to cut deficits later. But there is no mechanism for binding future Congresses to redeem the promises of their predecessors.

So businesses hoard their cash, consumers prepare to host the Grinch this holiday season, and the odds on a bleak 2012 continue to mount. 

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