A few weeks ago, President Obama urged employers to put America’s veterans to work.
Both appeals are well-intended. They do, however, raise this question:
Where are the jobs?
On Friday, a much-anticipated report on the nation’s employment showed sluggish job growth in January, the second month in a row. Signs of weakness in the United States and overseas sent stock prices tumbling of late, all of which is fueling concern that the U.S. economy might be slowing after a robust finish at the end of 2013.
Let’s hope this disappointing news is a temporary stumble. Earlier forecasts predicted the U.S. economy would grow a sturdy 3 percent this year — and there’s plenty of time to reach that number.
One way is for President Obama to support the Keystone XL project.
His State Department has reported this pipeline project would support about 42,100 jobs. At the same time, it reported that the environmental risks were minimal. If the president genuinely wants to put more Americans to work, he should take out his much-discussed pen, put his signature on this order and let construction begin.
At the same time, Congress must approve a bill that would expand the president’s authority to negotiate international trade agreements, a move that should benefit U.S. ports like Savannah that have more exports than imports. It also will open more foreign markets to American-made products, which should spur greater production and more employment.
The president supports this legislation. Unfortunately, some Democrats in Congress — especially in the Democratic-controlled Senate — stand in the way. Senate Majority Harry Reid vowed he would stop any move to bring it to the floor for a vote.
He and a few other Democrats believe more trade would hurt America’s labor unions. But what they’re really saying is that they believe U.S. workers can’t out-work or out-produce people in other countries.
That’s nonsense. America’s work ethic remains strong; what’s lacking is the will to compete.
On Friday, despite the grim jobs report, Mr. Obama went to Michigan. There, he touted the comeback of America’s auto industry, which was almost knocked out.
It’s time the president and other elected leaders supported current efforts in Washington to put more Americans to work — convicted felons, vets and anyone who wants a job.