This group hasn’t held a meeting since February of last year. So much for Wile E. Obama and the ACME Economic Destruction Co.’s “laser focus” on jobs. I think the economy is doing exactly as well as Obama wants it to, which is to say not very well at all.
President Barack Obama will let his jobs council expire this week without renewing its charter, winding down one source of input from the business community even as unemployment remains stubbornly high.
When Obama in January 2011 formed his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, unemployment was hovering above 9 percent. Two years later, more than 12 million people in the U.S. are out of work. The unemployment rate has fallen to 7.8 percent, but both parties agree that’s still too high.
A provision in Obama’s executive order establishing the council says it sunsets on Thursday. A White House official said the president does not plan to extend it.
Officials said the president always intended for the council to fulfill its mission and then wind down, and said Obama would continue to actively engage and seek input from business leaders about ways to accelerate job-creation and economic growth. Among the steps Obama plans to pursue are expedited permits for infrastructure projects, plus programs to boost entrepreneurship and workforce development.
Even before it was clear whether Obama would renew the jobs council, Republicans seized on its likely expiration as evidence the president has devoted insufficient attention to creating jobs, which polling shows remains a top priority for Americans. The Republican National Committee dubbed it part of “the failed Obama record,” while the House Republicans’ campaign committee, in an online petition, accused Obama of laying off his own jobs council.
Adding to the concern about the job market’s continued vulnerability, the Commerce Department said Wednesday that the U.S. economy shrank at an annual rate of 0.1 percent from October through December of last year, the first quarterly drop since 2009. The Federal Reserve said the economy appears to have “paused in recent months.”
The jobs council was a successor to another economic advisory board Obama created at the onset of his presidency. The panel was chaired by General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt and was composed of prominent business leaders and economists. Immelt said Thursday that progress has been made on implementing 90 percent of the council’s recommendations.
Obama met with the council only a handful of times. During the last meeting, in February 2012, the president and the council highlighted an engineering education initiative alongside school deans.