By Doug Heye, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Back in the mid 1970s, ABC aired a bizarre made-for-TV movie about motorcycling businessmen called Pray for the Wildcats. It starred Andy Griffith, William Shatner, Robert Reed, Marjoe Gortner, and Angie Dickenson, among others, and has become something of a cult classic.
During a meeting discussing graphic treatments of an advertising campaign, Sam Farragut, a homicidal, hatchet-wielding executive (Andy Griffith as the bad guy—I told you it was bizarre) complains about a lack of original ideas, saying, "I want some opinions around here. And I don't want them to sound like they all came out of the same mouth."
It's not something President Barack Obama is likely to say at today's much ballyhooed jobs summit. Opinions that sound like they all came out of the same mouth, i.e. ideas that agree with existing Obama administration policy, are exactly what the White House has engineered.
As noted by the Washington Times's Kara Rowland, the list of summit attendees "lacks a diversity of opinion." Labor unions and liberal economists, who supported Obama's election and the stimulus bill, are among the honored guests. Not on the list? The largest business organization in the country, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, with whom the White House has engaged in a public feud, and the National Federation of Independent Business.
At a time when unemployment is at 10.2 percent and the president expects it to rise, it's troubling that some of our top job creators have been shunned. Capitol Hill Republicans, however, have taken matters into their own hands.
This morning, House Republican leader John Boehner is holding an economic roundtable that will look at anti-job creation measures such as cap-and-trade legislation and tax increases, seeking to answer the question, "Where are the jobs?" Yesterday, House Republican Whip Eric Cantor addressed the Heritage Foundation, putting forth ideas aimed at lowering unemployment, such as halting burdensome regulations that could result in further job losses, reforming the unemployment system to reduce the burden businesses face, and halting tax increases until unemployment falls to below 6 percent.
These are ideas one is unlikely to hear at the Obama "jobs summit." But then again, it's not really a summit at all. Traditionally, summits bring people from opposite sides to find common interests—think Richard Nixon and Mao Zedong, Jimmy Carter with Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev or, if you prefer, Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage.
So let's call it what it is: a jobs meeting or a jobs rally. Whatever it is, it's not a summit. And it likely won't help create jobs, either.