Job One on New Jobs

By James R. Edwards, Jr. on December 9, 2009

President Obama has laid out his latest, great policy agenda item: a new jobs program. Unfortunately, his plan omits the easiest, most cost-effective measure. To get Americans back to work, stop importing 125,000 new foreign workers every single month.

The $787 billion economic "stimulus" bill early in 2009 failed to accomplish its stated mission. It spent hundreds of billions of dollars on politically and ideologically driven initiatives, such as elusive "green jobs." Thus, the stimulus fell well short of creating or saving the 3 million jobs promised. The administration claims this government spending saved or created 650,000 jobs, though that figure has been criticized as awfully optimistic. Even if the administration's number were accurate, it represents a profligate price to pay on a per-job basis. In the meantime, the administration has continued to issue 125,000 work visas, temporary and permanent, each month – or approaching 1.5 million new alien workers since President Obama took office.

The "cash for clunkers" program wasted a few billion more dollars through government's artificial manipulation of the auto market. This program injected taxpayer cash on a short-term basis by giving people an economic incentive to trade vehicles fast. The consequences economists have noted since that program ended include the immediate drop-off of buyers at car lots, the destruction of many perfectly good autos that otherwise would have stocked the used car market (which makes affordable vehicles available to lower- and middle-income families), and adverse effects on the auto manufacturers who don’t need to be whipsawed at this stage of their economic storm.

We see the flawed government intervention in the market through the flops of the stimulus, "cash for clunkers," and the half-cocked elements of the latest Obama jobs plan. In the same way, the ongoing importation of foreign workers, on permanent or temporary visas, amounts to government's artificial manipulation of the labor market. The government keeps flooding the labor pool. That imported excess makes it tougher for Americans to find jobs, as well as artificially forces wages down to levels below what many Americans can afford to accept. In other words, excessive immigration contributes to a diminishing American standard of living and the quality of life of American citizens.

If the president were serious about reducing American unemployment while being more fiscally responsible than he's been to date, then he'd take a time-out on new work visas. That costs taxpayers nothing, avoids the Keynesian hocus-pocus, and has immediate good effect for the 25 million hard-pressed Americans in need of a job.