The president has taken to the campaign trail to promote his “American Jobs Act.” That’s a good name for it: an act. “Pass this bill now!” he declared 24 times at a stop in Raleigh, N.C., and another 18 in Columbus, Ohio, and the act is sufficiently effective that, three years into the Vapidity of Hope, the president can still find crowds of true believers willing to chant along with him: “Pass this bill now!”
Not all supporters are content merely to singalong with the prompter-in-chief. In North Carolina, a still-devoted hopeychanger cried out, “I love you!”
“I love you, too,” said the president. “But . . . ”
Oh, no, here it comes: conditional love. “But, if you love me, you’ve got to help me pass this bill!” You’d be surprised how effective this line is: I tried it on Darlene in the back of my Ford Edsel when I was 17 and we didn’t get home till two in the morning.
Pass this bill now, or I’ll say “Pass this bill now!” another two dozen times! With this latest inspiration, Obama has taken the post-modern phase of democratic politics to a whole new level. “Pass this jobs bill”? Simply as a matter of humdrum reality, there is no bill, it won’t “create” any jobs, and it will be paid for with money we don’t have. But the smartest president in history has calculated that, if he says the same four monosyllables over and over, a nonexistent bill to create nonexistent jobs with nonexistent money will be yet another legislative triumph in the grand tradition of his first stimulus (the original Dumb and Dumber to the sequel’s Stimulus and Stimulusser).
The estimated cost of the non-bill is just shy of half a trillion dollars. Gosh, it seems like only yesterday that Washington was in the grip of a white-knuckle, clenched-teeth showdown over whether a debt-ceiling deal could be reached before the allegedly looming deadline. When the deal was triumphantly unveiled at the eleventh hour, it was revealed that our sober, prudent, fiscally responsible masters had gotten control of the runaway spending and had carved (according to the most optimistic analysis) a whole $7 billion dollars of savings out of the 2012 budget. The president then airily breezes into Congress and in 20 minutes adds another $447 billion to the tab. That’s what meaningful course-correction in Washington boils down to: Seven billion steps forward, 447 billion steps back.
This $447 billion does not exist, and even foreigners don’t want to lend it to us. A majority of it will be “electronically created” by the Federal Reserve buying U.S. Treasury debt. Don’t worry, it’s not like “printing money”: We leave that to primitive basket cases like Zimbabwe. This is more like one of those Nigerian e-mail schemes, in which a prominent public official promises you a large sum of money in return for your bank-account details. In the case of Ben Bernanke and Timothy Geithner, one prominent public official is promising to wire a large sum of money into the account of another prominent public official, which is a wrinkle even the Nigerians might have difficulty selling.
But not to worry. On Thursday night, the president told a Democratic fundraiser in Washington that the Pass My Jobs Bill bill would create 1.9 million new jobs. What kind of jobs are created by this kind of magical thinking? Well, they’re “green jobs” — and, if we know anything about “green jobs,” it’s that they take a lot of green. German taxpayers subsidize “green jobs” in their wind-power industry to the tune of a quarter of a million dollars per worker per year: $250,000 per “green job” would pay for a lot of real jobs, even in the European Union. Last year, it was revealed that the Spanish government paid $800,000 for every “green job” on a solar-panel assembly line. I had assumed carelessly that this must be a world record in terms of taxpayer subsidy per fraudulent “green job.” But it turns out those cheapskate Spaniards with their lousy nickel-and-dime “green jobs” subsidy just weren’t thinking big. The Obama administration’s $38.6 billion “clean technology” program was supposed to “create or save” 65,000 jobs. Half the money has been spent — $17.2 billion — and we have 3,545 jobs to show for it. That works out to an impressive $4,851,904.09 per “green job.” A world record! Take that, you loser Spaniards! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!
So, based on previous form, Obama’s prediction of 1.9 million new jobs will result in the creation of 92,000 new jobs, mostly in the Federal Department of Green Jobs Grant Applications.
Just to put it in perspective, the breezy $447 billion price tag for the Pass My Jobs Bill jobs bill is about 20 times higher than the most recent Greek government deficit currently threatening the stability of the entire eurozone. Indeed Greece’s projected 2011 deficit — $24 billion at last count — is little more than half of just one of Obama’s boutique, niche “green jobs” programs. As Churchill almost said, never in the field of human con tricks has so much been owed by so many to so little effect.
Fortunately, there is no “American Jobs Act.” Indeed, the other day, tired of waiting for Obama to turn his telepromptered pseudo-bill into a typewritten actual bill, the Texas congressman Louie Gohmert waggishly introduced an “American Jobs Act” all of his own. But back on the campaign trail the chanting goes on, last week’s election results in Nevada and New York notwithstanding. America has the lowest employment since the early Eighties, the lowest property ownership since the mid-Sixties, the highest deficit-to-GDP ratio since the Second World War, the worst long-term unemployment since the Great Depression, the highest government-dependency rate of all time, and the biggest debt mountain in the history of the planet. And the president has just announced to the world that he’s checked the more-of-the-above box. The Pass My Jobs Bill jobs bill proclaims that this is all he knows and all he wants to know.
In my new book, I point out that Big Government leaves everything else smaller — and, when it’s bigger than anything ever attempted, the everything else is going to be way smaller. Maybe if you’re a “public service” worker or a tenured professor at Berkeley or a green-jobs racketeer or a New York Times columnist married to an heiress, you can afford Obama. But, if you’re not, look at your home, look at your savings, and figure out what’ll be left after another four years of “stimulus.”
“I love you!” squeals the Obammybopper in North Carolina. “I love you, too,” says Obama. “But . . . ”
But: You gotta take this half-trillion-dollar bill, and the next one, and the one after that. Like Al Gore says in Love Story, love means never having to say you’re sorry.
— Mark Steyn, a National Review columnist, is the author of After America: Get Ready for Armageddon. © 2011 Mark Steyn