Economics

The entire Obama presidency, in one anecdote

One of my favorite moments from the new book The Escape Artists: How Obama’s Team Fumbled the Recovery:

Energy was a particular obsession of the president-elect’s, and therefore a particular source of frustration. Week after week, [White House economic adviser Christina] Romer would march in with an estimate of the jobs all the investments in clean energy would produce; week after week, Obama would send her back to check the numbers. “I don’t get it,” he’d say. “We make these large-scale investments in infrastructure. What do you mean, there are no jobs?” But the numbers rarely budged.

Now let’s fast forward to this past September:

A $38.6 billion loan guarantee program that the Obama administration promised would create or save 65,000 jobs has created just a few thousand jobs two years after it began, government records show. The program — designed to jump-start the nation’s clean technology industry by giving energy companies access to low-cost, government-backed loans — has directly created 3,545 new, permanent jobs after giving out almost half the allocated amount, according to Energy Department tallies.

So where are the new jobs coming from, at least the good-paying ones? From the industry Obama wants to replace as much as possible with “clean” energy: oil and gas. A new report from the World Economic Forum estimates the sectors “added approximately 150,000 jobs in 2011, 9% of all jobs created in the United States that year.”

Those numbers are even more impressive once you realize that some 40% of all new jobs are being added in low-pay sectors such as retailing and leisure. So nearly 20% of new “good jobs” are in oil and gas.

More from the WEF report:

A common measure of the relative contribution of an industry to the overall economy is the value added per worker or, in other words, the monetary value of work performed by an individual in a given year. The higher the ratio, the greater each worker’s contribution to GDP. On average direct employees in the US oil and gas sector contribute US$ 171,000 to US$ 371,000 to GDP. The average figure for all other US industries in 2010 was approximately US$ 112,000. The larger economic contributions per worker highlight the impact of improving technology on productivity in the sector.

50 thoughts on “The entire Obama presidency, in one anecdote

  1. Only a radical left environmentalist is surprised by the economic power of the oil and gas energy sector. The rest of us know that for the next 50 years (and maybe the next 150), this industry will be the energy jobs generator. Will solar and wind ever be viable? Ironically, on the scale the environmentalists naively want to see now, the answer is “no.” Why? Because as we begin to carpet the desert with solar panels and clog the canyons with windmills, those same environmentalists will start to scream bloody murder!

    • And the day electric cars become economically feasible the left will suddenly realize how toxic their batteries are and move to ban them.

      The parable of the plastic bag should be a lesson to everyone. Why did we start using plastic bags? To save the trees and now why must we stop using them? To save the environment. Soon look for a push to return to paper bags as it becomes known that reusable fabric bags harbor disease and use unsustainable production methods.

      • Wodun: the right-thinking Volvo drivers who run Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are way ahead of you. These stores only offer paper bags. I’m a dog owner so I prefer plastic bags (reuse is a good thing, right?). So nobody can win.

    • Craig, I agree. Their enthusiasm relies too heavily on doom and gloom (we must do this or we will all die) instead of carefully planning using a combination of all energy sources. You are correct about windmills etc. Out west my wife and I (Nebraska/Minn area) saw thousands with more than a million planned. It will be ugly, very ugly when done. When a lad, I was taught that nuclear energy would solve all of our problems. It has a place but certainly did not perform the way promoters claimed. I some times wonder if the way we do things is simply part of what we are.

  2. Another thing Obama, the left, and environmentalists either don’t get or don’t care about is that old technology cannot be replaced by new until the new is viable and accessible to everyone. A few examples: cars vs. horses, lightbulbs vs. gaslight, ranges vs. wood or coal stoves. Feel free to add more examples, but you get my meaning. Obama and his ilk need to be displaced or we’re all in serious trouble.

    • Very true, Rebecca. Most advances with staying power proceed slowly with many fits and starts and outright failures along the way. Now, whether Obama doesn’t understand this or doesn’t care, is staggering. But take heart. Surely, every one of his outrageously expensive energy-replacement boondoggles represent another nail in his one-term coffin

  3. yeah – surprising a socialist doesnt undersand that a command economy doesnt create jobs, like a demand economy does. check. and he also thinks giving a pullout date for a troop rampup is a great idea. and he also thinks that taxing “big oil” reduces prices. and he also thinks that devaluing the dollar doesnt cause commodity inflation…and…and…and….

    • no one in their position can be as dumb as you all think. get it in your head please. it is an has been all alone a plan on bring our great county to its knees. when we fall his legions can step in an really change us to what they want. wake THE HE$$ UP.

  4. Why is anyone surprised. Obama and his crew are so divorced from reality that they think that government managed economies work(and work well). They never have and they never will. Also, there are too many people in this country who actually think that the government’s job is to give them “free” stuff. We have the blind leading the blind.

  5. Hmm. $38.6 billion program, with half of that amount doled out according to that WaPo article, creates 3,545 permanent jobs. You do the math….
    $5.4 million spent per permanent job.
    And people complain about executive compensation.

  6. His socialist teachers told him that it would work though the nostrums failed every time the were tried. They always claimed they failed because the USA sabotaged them like Cuba for example but as president no one could stop him. Failure to learn from your mistakes is either stupid, crazy, or both.

  7. Romer knew beyond a doubt that obama was totally ignorant after the first month of his daily incomprehension yet she stayed and partied because it was a great gig. As a high official in govt. the cow probably got regular stud service and DC has plenty of her favorite color.

  8. Jim,
    You have been a consistent hack against the Obama Administration and it’s rewarded you well, though I do not see you as credible in many cases. Your growing bias tars your reputation, credibility and believability. An example is your recent “expose” on jobless numbers, wherein you made the case they were actually higher than the government figures. While I agree that’s true – and has always been the case – I do not recall you applying the same math and comments to the jobless numbers when W. was president. In short, you’ve become a well rehearsed shill for the right. There is an audience out there that devours anti-Obama rhetoric and you willingly serve it to their mouths.
    From my perspective Obama has done a remarkable job in gradually pulling our Nation from the extremely horrible mess the Republicans left behind from the last Administration. All the key numbers have steadily improved, though not rapidly, and the main attack seems to be whining that things are not moving fast enough. If you want to be a talking hack, you’re getting there. But I no longer see you as an independent and balanced thinker.
    Be well,
    Diego

    • Diego,
      You and your Dem friends keep bringing up the same ole same ole without any real education. Your common retort is “When W. was President”, or “horrible mess the Republicans left behind”. Let me remind you of a few things….

      1. It has been nearly 4 years since Obama took over.
      2. During Bush’s last 2 years and the first 2 years of Obama, the House and Senate were majority Democrat. (making nearly 6 straight YEARS of Democratic controll).
      3. Most of the railing on Bush and the Republicas come from the anti”war” Dems. When in fact Obama has spent more on war in 4 years than Bush did in 8 and Obama has sent more troops into “war” in 4 years than Bush did in 8.
      4. You are a hypocrite to EVER attack someone for attacking Obama and being biased when YOU do the exact same thing in reverse…….

      Wake up Diego……

        • Hey, Diego, it’s not talking points when it’s fact and Clint’s talking about facts. All you’re doing is helping Obama with excuses.

        • Ah yes, the “I know what you are, but what am I?” schoolyard response. Nice move avoiding any of the points vividly illustrated in Mr. White’s post, Teflon Diego! I guess you’re just another of those who believe that anything their side does is A-OK because they’re the GOOD guys, and anything the other side does is EEEEEVIL because they are EEEEEVIL. The double-standard is alive, well, and living in the Left. The mask is well and truly off, these days.

    • Kudos to the DNC website you copied and pasted that post from. There are no spelling errors and the syntaxt is perfect. Do they send you a check for that or do they do direct deposit?

    • what perspective is that diego? maybe from the parasitical, benefit sucking, oxgen thief democrat base perspective? The non-taxpayer perspective? Give me an idea.

    • “I do not recall you applying the same math and comments to the jobless numbers when W. was president.”

      That’s because the average period of unemployment while Bush was in office was closer to 6 weeks. People were losing jobs in record numbers but they turning around and finding new jobs relatively quickly. But under Obama the average period of unemployment is over 6 months. It’s the highest its been since the Great Depression. And it’s why the true unemployment rates are so much substantially higher than they were under Bush. Hence, the reason why they are noteworthy now.

      • Clearly, Mr. Hefty bags, you have no idea what you are talking about. People under Bush were “turning around and finding new jobs relatively quickly.” Really? Can you back that up with some kind of link as proof?
        And if that were true, why did employment continue to skyrocket?

    • Hard to believe there’s such ideologues as you. No matter how horrible this President is you spew the liberal media sunshine and lollipops. Truly the definition of the saying “there are none so blind as those that will not see.” In every arena Obama has done a miserable job with few exceptions. He did grow the national debt by $6 trillion dollars in three years (yes and Bush did his part with adding $5 trillion in eight years) and Obama lost our triple A credit rating by printing money and spending like a drunken sailor (sorry drunken sailor).
      I suspect you are a taker, not a maker.
      “A Democracy will cease to exist when those that are willing to work are outnumbered by those that will not.” (We are there folks) Thomas Jefferson

    • Joblessness was not a National crisis under the Bush administration as it is under Obama. Why would anyone think of citing those statistics unless, like you, they are the “party hack” and a blind Obama supporter.

    • Any facts to back up your argument that “key numbers have steadily improved” would be beneficial in backing up your, um, “arguments.”

  9. The true lesson of the Obama Presidency is that Democrats don’t seem to understand unintended circumstances. They seem shocked every time and then double-down hoping to reverse the previous shocking results only to find things get worse and worse.

    • Obama as CEO:

      Employee: “We’re losing $1.50 per unit on the sale of these things”

      Obama: “Don’t worry, we’ll make it up on volume”

  10. Why does Barry and Associates do what they do so {apparently} badly? This is assuredly, nothing more than BHO using the American People as lab rats in a large-scale experiment.”How far can we advance, note our weaknesses, and retreat until the next time…” Those of a Communistic nature call it “The Dialectic”, and is effective when no other system is in the offing.
    When* a crisis a week *,is the rule, no one notices the larger picture.They’re so busy playing catch-up, and living as best they can, there is simply no time for most to stop and look. Progressives continully disrupt the system because:1) they can, currently. & 2) it benefits their world view,and long-range plan.{once ‘a new normal’ is established, most adapt and continue. How many people live with the pain, that they know…?}
    Until Americans get the hint that Barry will never back off and will keep advancing The Dialectic, what we have, is what we got. This normal was new, but can anyone not say it got old, real fast? The ?? is: Are you done with THIS? {Pretty easy to answer, is it not?}

    • America is not being used as lab rats. Obama’s green energy dole outs and attacks on the oil and gas industry through regulations are just more of the Cloward and Piven plan of attack while also accomplishing payoffs of cronies. Grow the boondoggles while flushing billions of taxpayer monies down the rat hole and grow the entitlements and new voters. Throw in the obstruction of voting laws that block illegal voters, sue states that try to protect their borders, attack fundamental American values, Christianity and all that is decent and voila! The take down of a Republic.
      Oh it’s a plan orchestrated and sought by the media. Ain’t it great…

    • HeftyJo sez:

      What’s that saying again? Oh yea, “Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.”

      ROFLMAO! (Well, I would be if it weren’t so sad!)

      That is so stolen!

  11. If those 3,545 new jobs got created after $19.3 billion worth of loans were guaranteed, who’s rolling in all that low-interest money? Obama cronies no doubt.

    So the taxpayers have funded 3,545 jobs at $5,444,000 each, or maybe said cronies can kick back a few of their surplus millions (no, billions) to ensure the re-election of Obama?

    Tar and feathers.

  12. The issue with renewable energy R&D is relatively moot when thinking about the greater economic landscape. It should come as no surprise that Oil and Gas provided the most jobs… the industry is exponentially larger than that of renewables. One should, however, consider the longer term potential implications of what renewables could, and inevitably will, bring to our economy. Pitting the two against eachother is silliness. Nuclear power was a government subsidized research project.

    Complaining that “Obama didn’t do enough to create jobs” flies in the face of Republican economic strategy (ie. Let the free market rule). Furthermore, taxes under this administration are lower than they ever have been in history.

    I can’t help but notice that the average GOP rhetoric takes simplistic views on economic matters, and pays little attention to money within context. Deregulation brought us the great depression. Regulation brought the booming 40s. Deregulation brought us the crash in the 70s and again in the past few years. Regulation is only an enemy when your planning flies in the face of long term values, when short-term gain is the priority. Come on guys…. Think.

    • Right, With Oil or gas you can produce electricity for 3-4 cents per kWh; but with renewables you can product this same electricity for a mere 15-20 cents per kWh… clearly paying 4-5 times more for something is better to get the same product.

      Hey, yI see you’ve got a car; can I sell you your next one? I promise to sell you one just like what your driving; but to charge you 5 times as much to make it “better” for you to own it.

      But hey, we think maybe with a lot of work we can possibly make these twice as efficient as they are now before we max out; which only makes them twice as expensive to use… that’s good enough for efficiency, right?

      When you’re getting 20% of the possible solar energy converted now; you’re never going to be 10 times as efficient… you’ll never hit 100%, and even if you did that’d be a break even proposition not a net benefit.

      So since it can’t be a net benefit; can we QUIT spending trillions of dollars trying to make it better? Or do we not care about reality, science, and math when we’re looking to spend money?

      Do we really have to carry this out another 30 years like we did the corn ethanol subsidies before we admit this won’t really help either? Why do we have to waste decades and trillions of dollars on this idiocy every single time?

      • And since production will be in China, let them subsidize research. We will have the install and maintenance jobs regardless.

  13. “Complaining that “Obama didn’t do enough to create jobs”… ”

    I think he did plenty. $38.6 Billion.

    I would guess that the main complaint is that he is a serial liar.

    So far we’ve gotten only 3,545 jobs, instead of the hope-y changie 65,000 that he used to dupe voters into putting him into office.

  14. BHO’s biggest mistake in life was abandoning the academy and NGO world for elective politics. He has very few political skills, and his outlook and beliefs come straight from the academic world. He is a wholly typical product of that environment — and grossly out of place in the White House.

    His election was a fluke compounded out of several factors, including being not Bush, being not Republican, being a non-scary black, and receiving a pass on all his flaws from the complicit mainstream media.

    Personally, he seems a decent enough family man. But he has a notably thin skin for criticism, which I think betrays his own insecurity and unease with the position he’s in. (Also the speed of his rise, which has to give him some worries during reflective moments.)

    He’s not stupid, and he has to be seeing what a total botch he’s making of this. What makes it worse — and this is where his intellectual limitations come in — is that nothing he tries seems to work. This is inevitable, however, because the Lefty-Progressive academic world, which has supplied his mind with solutions, simply doesn’t “get” this country and what makes it tick.

    In any case, he’s manifestly unsuited to the presidency, and I hope he is released to return to his natural home (planet?) next January.

    • Robert, I think the problem is that BHO comes out of Illinois. I’ve seen first hand state economists tell the legislature these kinds of things: “Illinois lags behind the nation in employment growth because most growth occurs on the coasts.” “The State Capital Bill will create xxx jobs.” He’s been fed a steady diet of this stuff for a long time. Legislators in Illinois were given, during his tenure, a pot of money for “legislative initiatives” that they could direct in their district for infrastructure spending. BHO governs the U.S. the way we govern are largest states…It isn’t some ideological or academic thing.

      • I agree he’s typical of many state-level legislators. Yet limitations which in state-level politicians do only local damage will have far worse effects if translated to the national stage. So being a typical Illinois politico doesn’t really excuse him because he’s not messing up just Illinois anymore.

        Moreover, my bigger point remains concerning his intellectual limitations. It’s precisely because his ideas and mental framework both come from the academic environment — which is fundamentally hostile to capitalism — that he’s making such a mess of things.

        To see what I mean, try a thought experiment: Instead of the course he actually followed, let’s suppose alt-BHO gets his undergrad degree and goes to work for several years for a company whose survival hinges on whether their products or services sell to the public.

        My thought is that even five years’ exposure to that environment would have given him skills and solutions that all his years spent racking up big fancy degrees and working in an academic/NGO environment failed to give him. As for why this is true, see Robert Nozick’s very perceptive essay (“Why do intellectuals oppose capitalism?”) at http://www.cato.org/pubs/policy_report/cpr-20n1-1.html

        To put it more starkly, if Obama had even a smidgen of business experience, he’d never have made the now-notorious comment, “You didn’t build that.”

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