President Barack Obama is disbanding his job council this week, although the unemployment rate remains extremely high.
Obama started the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness in January 2011 when the unemployment rate hit 9 percent. But now that the unemployment rate has dropped to 7.9 percent, Obama apparently thinks that’s good enough. Twelve million people out of work isn’t that many, right?
The council expired Thursday, in favor of a “new, expanded effort” to work with business leaders on Obama’s new pet projects, like immigration reform. Obama will probably barely notice its absence seeing as the group only met four times in the past two years. The group has not actually met in more than a year, although the White House claims 16 of the council’s recommendations are already in effect.
A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner spoke to that effect Thursday, saying, “To understand the abysmal nature of our economic recovery, look no further than the president’s disinterest in learning lessons from actual job creators.”
General electric CEO Jeff Immelt headed the now defunct jobs council that included 25 other business leaders and economists. The council launched nationwide “listening and action” meetings that brought together local elected officials, businessmen and scholars. Obama did not make an appearance at any of these events.
“Whether ignoring the group or rejecting its recommendations, the president treated his Jobs Council as more of a nuisance than a vehicle to spur job creation,” said Boehner’s spokesman, Brendan Buck.
While the Obama administration is working on the council’s recommendation for expedited permits for infrastructure projects, it butted heads with the council members when corporate tax cuts were suggested.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Thursday that the council “was always intended” to only last two years and that Obama would “begin a new, expanded effort to work with the business community and other outside groups to advance specific policy priorities promoted by the jobs council.”
Carney said this will include “expanded new skills and talent initiatives, promoting entrepreneurship and small businesses, expediting permitting for infrastructure projects across the country and continuing progress on fiscal issues and tax reform.”
But Republicans think the jobs council shutdown is a sign that Obama has given up on job growth, now that he’s been reelected.
“Instead of taking real action, like renewing his Jobs Council or approving the Keystone Pipeline, President Obama has moved on to his second-term liberal agenda,” the National Republican Congressional Committee said in a statement.
For whatever it’s worth, Obama still insists, “This has not been a show council. This has been a work council.”
Unfortunately the millions of Americans looking for work, or who have given up looking altogether, can’t take that to the bank.