5:40 PM, Jul 16, 2012 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The job numbers are just one manifestation of the economic malaise. This morning we learned that retail sales declined for the third straight month. Growth estimates are being recalculated until they barely exceed one percent.
But it is the unemployment number that concentrates the voter's mind. If the president is defeated in his ceaseless, frenzied campaign to be re-elected, people like Mr. Axelrod will almost certainly blame his defeat on the unemployment statistics. Which, it goes without saying, they will blame on George W. Bush.
So you wonder: Would the Obama administration not do whatever it takes to get that number down? It has demonstrated, again and again, that it is a seat-of-the-pants operation and not inclined to let itself be inconvenienced by law or tradition. The administration had barely stopped celebrating the passage of the Affordable Care Act before it began granting waivers exempting favored parties – unions, especially – from its provisions. Now, it is granting waivers to states that will weaken elements of the welfare reforms that became law during the Clinton years. On immigration, the administration granted itself a waiver so that it would not be obliged to enforce certain aspects of the law. When it bailed out General Motors and Chrysler, the administration ignored the normal bankruptcy rules in order to reward favored constituents. Specifically, the United Auto Workers.
The administration, in short, does what it thinks it has to do.
So, just for instance, why does it not green light the Keystone Pipeline? Is that not "aggressive" enough?
There are thousands of regulations on the books that make it hard for people to do business and many, many people in the government who make it their mission to "crucify" private citizens as a way of throwing a scare into the rest of us. The president and his team could go long on the waivers and just stop enforcing those regulations that are disincentives to commerce. Why not, if it would get people working? The administration has already demonstrated that it is not restrained by scruples in this regard. It is okay with waivers. So why not some for the job creators?
The answer, of course, is that they are not part of the Obama constituency. And that explains a lot of things.