Obama’s Solution To Joblessness: High Speed Rail

That, and other small ball measures, as the LA Times points out. Just the kinds of ideas one would expect from a (not my) president with virtually no experience in the private sector

As White House aides search for ways to show progress on the economy, they are banking that a set of small-scale proposals may be able to win congressional approval and dent a chronically high unemployment rate considered the main threat to President Obama’s reelection chances.

Notice the part about “show progress”: that is a recurring theme in the article by Peter Nicholas. For Team Obama, though, it is more about appearing to be Doing Something that actually getting something done.

Obama has turned to the modest measures in the absence of more ambitious tools, such as stimulus spending, which are not an option for the White House in the climate of austerity and fiscal discipline dominating Washington.

Examples include more spending on high-speed rail, roads and bridges; improvements to the patent system; free-trade agreements; and extending a one-year payroll tax cut that is expected to provide an average benefit of $695 per worker.

Yeah, that should fix the economy. Joe Biden once said that the White House doesn’t lend itself to on the job training. Good news, Joe! Obama isn’t even attempting to learn!

Privately, White House advisors worry that there is no elixir for jolting the economy in ways that could alter the dynamics of the election campaign. But they hope at least to show strides in reducing the unemployment rate. That task got tougher Friday after a bleak jobs report showed the unemployment rate rose to 9.2%.

Which is not particularly shocking of an attitude, considering that they think high speed rail (I’m not against rail, but, it needs to make sense and be cost effective, and most plans I’ve seen are worthless) and patent reform will do the trick.

“We have proposed a lot of things in our budget that Congress has not acted on,” said a White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. “So, patent reform: Is that the single best way to start creating jobs tomorrow? Of course not. No one is arguing that. But by reducing lawsuits, does it increase the desirability of making investments today? Yes, it does.”

You mean that budget that even most Democrats failed to vote for? The one that severely increased the debt and deficit? Hey, chump, if you want a patent reform bill, send one on over to the House. Oh, and just so you are aware, people can, in fact, build stuff without a patent.

A steady stream of polls has shown that voters are unhappy with Obama’s handling of the economy. Even members of the president’s party fear that the economy could ultimately be Obama’s political undoing.

Henry Cisneros, a housing secretary under former President Clinton, said: “You can’t win this if the economic foundation is truly shaky. He really does have to turn this around, in my judgment.”

That leaves Obama in a politically difficult spot. In the absence of healthy job growth, White House aides want to show that the president is hard at work on a solution.

That’s mostly what he and his team have been doing since Day 1: pretending they know what they are doing, and talking about jobs now and then. And blame-storming. Can’t forget the blame storming. But, there is a magic elixir: get government the hell out of the way, and stop talking about raising taxes on small business owners.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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