Obama flubs on creating more jobs

The Obama administration has been focused on the wrong jobs numbers. Instead of obsessing over the president’s sagging job approval ratings, the focus should have been on a job-creation initiative.

We finally have a genuine “most important issue or problem” according to every poll out there, yet the president doesn’t seem to be responding, except to try and keep people on unemployment benefits. Even a public jobs initiative would be welcomed at this juncture, but things won’t really get better in this economy until consumer confidence rises in response to the availability of more jobs in the private sector.

The president isn’t the only one who seems confused about this matter. Last week a Quinnipiac University poll announced that Americans believe jobs are more important than deficit reduction. “American voters say 64-30 percent that reducing unemployment is more important than reducing the federal budget deficit,” said the pollsters’ release. It went on, “Even Republicans say 58-38 percent that reducing unemployment is more important.”

Of course they do. Jobs are the No. 1 problem. But the choice the poll offered, jobs or deficit, is a false one. It does not take into account all the options out there. It wrongly implies that the only way for us to create jobs is for the government and taxpayers to go broke paying for them. This is Washington-style framing of an issue at its worst. Go talk to governors in the states, even Democrats, and they will be able to identify dozens of job-creation strategies that don’t require adding on to the national debt.

In fairness to Quinnipiac, its own poll contained a question that responds to my critique. They just buried it in their analysis. The pollsters asked whether “government should do more to solve problems or whether government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals.” It wasn’t even close. Only 39 percent of Americans think that government should be driving solutions to a problem like job creation. A solid majority of 53 percent wants the private sector leading the charge.

Why can’t the Obama administration get their minds around this reality? Instead of responding to the BP mess with additional regulations, why don’t they enforce the regulations already on the books? Instead of punishing the entire oil and gas industry with a moratorium on drilling, thereby increasing unemployment, why not let the companies that play nice by the rules expand their operations?

The governors, most all of whom are constitutionally required to balance their budgets annually, recognize that government can’t pay for every new job their state economies need. So they rely on other competitive strategies. Most importantly, they try to vanquish regulations that discourage investment in new jobs and, in very targeted fashion, they try to lower taxes that discourage jobs. You can sometimes net more revenue by cutting one nuisance tax on business in exchange for the revenue stream that expanded employment creates.

These issues are going to come to a head in the financial sector. Yes, polls today show approval of tighter regulations. But if the package the president just forced on the nation causes institutions to slow lending for new construction and for small businesses that create most new jobs, we’re never going to get out of this financial hole and the president and his party will be held responsible.

Franklin Roosevelt built a Democrat majority coming out of a depression by wooing new supporters, like African-Americans, through the creation of employment. All Obama seems to offer Americans is more debt and unemployment. A Republican governor should run against Obama in 2012 to show how we can create jobs through competitive strategies in this global economy.

David Hill has been a Republican pollster since 1984. This cycle he is polling for gubernatorial campaigns in four states.