President Barack Obama allowed the “jobs council” he formed in January 2011 to dissolve on January 31, the day before the new unemployment rate was reported to have ticked up to 7.9 percent, as its two-year charter expired. The President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness was announced by the White House January 21, 2011 and was tasked with “finding new ways to promote growth through investments in American business to equip workers with the skills they need to succeed, encourage the private sector to hire and invest in American competitiveness, and attract top jobs and businesses here in the United States.”
Obama said at the time that the council is “to focus its work on finding new ways to encourage the private sector to hire and invest in American competitiveness.” While Republicans and many conservative economists argue that the group provided more political cover for the Obama administration than substantive policy, the White House said the president always intended for the council to fulfill its mission and then wind down, and said that Obama would continue to actively engage and seek input from business leaders about ways to accelerate job-creation and economic growth.
With unemployment ticking up from 7.7 percent the month of the election to 7.8 in December, to the most recent 7.9 percent and 12.4 million people out of work or under employed (the U-6 number has been 14.4 percent for three consecutive months) one may ask what was accomplished? Add to that the continued record low workforce participation rate and the modest job growth (157,000) last month and pinpointing what was achieved by the council is even more elusive.
The fact that Obama had not met with the council in over a year and that many of the hand-picked members did not endorse or vote for Obama (including council leader Jeff Immelt) would indicate that there was nothing to be gained from extending the charter.
The council had little impact on the jobs market as the slow but steady upward trend in unemployment confirms. With the announcement by the manufacturers of medical devices that they will be cutting thousands of jobs as a direct result of the 2.3 percent tax increase on each medical device sold by manufacturers that was included in the Affordable Care Act it is likely that the unemployment rate will continue to move in the wrong direction.
The increase in the unemployment rate is only one of a number of recent economic indicators that suggest 2013 is going to be a tough year for an economy already struggling to gain traction. It is hard to fathom that the jobs council actually accomplished their stated objective when the jobs situation is still floundering, and apparently in decline since the election.
If the goal was job creation the council, and therefore Obama, failed miserably-if the goal was simply to allow Obama to use the jobs council to deflect discussion about the weak job creation during his first term long enough to win a second term, mission accomplished.
The formation of councils and committees has proven to be the method the Obama administration has chosen as a way to delay dealing with issues in any substantive way. By forming panels, committees and councils that spend months studying their assigned issue Obama has been successful in kicking the can down the road on a number of issues (remember the Simpson-Bowles Commission?) while not following through on recommendations offered.
The SOP for this administration is to let months go by while the appointed council studies the issue, then when the council makes their recommendations the White House “will consider the recommendations”- of course that takes several more months. Then months (or years) go by and no action is taken to implement the recommendations the panels put forward, but Obama has been successful in delaying action indefinitely.
Those that sit on these councils have voiced their frustration that no action is taken after they have completed their work, maybe coming to realize that they were little more than props in the never ending theatrical performance that is this administration.