Washington Report

Obama Planning Jobs Summit

As unemployment figures continue to rise, the American public is losing hope about job prospects. In fact, a recent Gallup poll found that their optimism has reached a new low, and only 8% of Americans believe that now is a good time to find a job. For months, Republicans have criticized their Democratic colleagues for not placing enough emphasis on job creation and voters in New Jersey and Virginia recently seconded the emotion by choosing the Republican candidate in their gubernatorial races earlier this month.

President Barack Obama, who also has been criticized for not focusing more on the economy, may finally be getting the message. Before leaving on a nine-day trip to Asia, he announced Thursday that the White House will host a forum on job creation in December. It will bring together small business owners, corporate CEOs, economists, and representatives from labor unions and nonprofit groups to discuss strategies to accelerate job creation–a challenge Obama said his administration is determined to meet.

“We all know that there are limits to what government can and should do, even during such difficult times,” he said Thursday. “But we have an obligation to consider every additional, responsible step that we can [take] to encourage and accelerate job creation in this country.”

Cato Institute fellow Michael Tanner says job creation cannot be built in a day and the summit is more public relations strategy than policy prescription.

“To some degree, the president’s a prisoner of the business cycle. Jobs are a lagging indicator and we won’t see a drop in unemployment until mid or late next year, which is unfortunate in terms of politics,” Tanner said. “Voters tend to punish presidents for bad economic conditions. That means in 2010 they’ll be taking it out on Democrats.”