President Obama unsurprisingly devoted a good portion of his State of the Union address to “jobs.” But what he said was disheartening to Americans, unless you are an employer eager for access to cheap labor. The President has even stopped paying lip service to the importance of labor unions. For a president who has made corporate irresponsibility and income inequality the main focus of his reelection campaign, last night he sounded a lot like the President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (Take away the Chamber’s support for the Keystone Pipeline and Mr. Obama’s speech sounds eerily similar to the one delivered by the Chamber’s president.)
Here is what President Obama said: “It’s time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in America.” Nice rhetoric that on its own might give a glimmer of hope in a economic climate that, despite the administrations best efforts to put lipstick on a pig, Americans know all too well is not showing substantive improvement. But President Obama also wants Congress to pass “comprehensive immigration reform right now.” And, in order to satisfy the “many business leaders who want to hire in the United States but can’t find workers with the right skills,” President Obama wants to greatly expand guest worker programs. He even makes an argument that is patently false. He says that “growing industries in science and technology have twice as many openings as we have workers who can do the job.” As FAIR has pointed out, the National Science Foundation has found that there are at least 2½ times more tech workers than there are available jobs.
What President Obama proposes is to keep more jobs in the U.S. while bringing in more foreign workers to fill those jobs. That way, U.S. companies can depress wages enough in this country in order to remain competitive with countries where workers are ruthlessly exploited. Now I know that P.T. Barnum is purported to have said “there’s a sucker born every minute,” but does President Obama really think that Americans are going to believe that the best way to “put America back to work” is to allow U.S. employers to bring in millions more foreign workers? Can President Obama circumvent the law of supply and demand in the labor market as easily as he has bypassed U.S. immigration law? “[I]t’s getting more expensive to do business in places like China,” said President Obama. So, his solution is to make it less expensive to do business in American by depressing wages and lowering working conditions to in order to convince companies to locate their operations here. President Obama may not like Chinese tires, but he sure seems keen on their economic model.