The Corner

Today’s Questions for the President

The New York Times reports that in order to increase jobs, your administration is considering creating a “Department of Jobs” by, among other things, merging parts of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Commerce Department, and economic divisions of the State Department.

Speaking of creating cabinet-level departments, the Energy Department was created in 1977 when the U.S. imported 35 percent of its oil. The department’s purpose was to make the U.S. energy-independent. Since its creation, the department has spent hundreds of billions of dollars and has 109,000 employees and contractors. We now import 65 percent of our oil and no new nuclear power plants have been built in over 30 years.

The Department of Education was created in 1980 for the purpose of improving U.S. education. Since then, overall per pupil K-12 spending has increased (in constant dollars) from approximately $6,000 per year to $12,500 per year. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent by the department since 1980, yet scores for 17-year-olds on the National Assessment of Educational Progress — often referred to as “The Nation’s Report Card” — have remained unchanged.

Why should Americans expect a Department of Jobs to improve our jobs picture when the Energy Department didn’t improve our energy independence and the Education Department didn’t improve our test scores?

What will a Department of Jobs do that other agencies don’t already do?

Will the Department of Jobs render the Department of Labor obsolete?

How many non-government jobs do you expect the Department of Jobs to create annually and in what occupations? What will be the average cost of creating each job? What will be the Department’s initial budget?

The New York Times also reports that White House press secretary Jay Carney, commenting on job-creation proposals, said, “If you’re talking about a stunt, I don’t think a stunt is what the American people are looking for.”

How is rearranging bureaucracies, ostensibly to create jobs, not a stunt?

Why isn’t this proposal evidence that you’ve run out of substantive ideas to increase the number of jobs in the U.S.?

Peter Kirsanow — Peter N. Kirsanow is an attorney and a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

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