Anyone familiar with the full text of President Barack Obama's American Jobs Act will understand why he is in such a hurry for Congress to pass it. He doesn't want anyone to read it first.
We've been down this road before and, heaven help us, the president wants to take us down this road yet again. The bill is full of things that would give a reasonable person pause. One of them is the section identified as the "Fair Employment Act of 2011" which establishes a "prohibition on discrimination in employment on the basis of an individual's status as unemployed."
It's true that long-term unemployment is a serious issue right now, more serious than at any time since the end of the Second World War according to more than one labor economist. But what Obama is proposing will make it harder for the long-term unemployed to find work because, in essence, he is saying it should be actionable should a business decide not to hire them. If ever there was a disincentive to hire someone who doesn't have a job, this might be it.
The way things work now, thanks to the trial bar and their friends on the federal bench, making an accusation of discrimination is practically the same as proving it. No business owner, no corporate leader, no person involved in the hiring process wants to find themselves on the wrong end of an allegation that they or their company discriminated in its hiring practices. It is an embarrassing and costly charge, one that often gets more attention when it is made than when it is resolved in an employer's favor. And, no matter what the U.S. Constitution and our judicial system may say about "innocent until proven guilty," it is almost always incumbent on the accused to prove, one way or another, that they didn't discriminate, or to settle out of court for what is usually called "unspecified damages with no admission of wrong doing."
Under what Obama's is asking for in his bill it shall be a prohibited act "to fail or refuse to consider for employment, or fail or refuse to hire, an individual as an employee because of the individual's status as unemployed." Which opens the door for all the Acorn-like groups out there to send long-term unemployed people into businesses big and small—especially those the liberals don't like because of their political activity, because they are non-union, or because of the business they are in—to apply for jobs and, when they don't get them, to allege the decision not to hire was based on discrimination. And, of course, the legislation includes a provision awarding "reasonable attorney's fees (including expert fees) and costs attributable to the pursuit of a claim under this Act" in the event that discrimination should be found to have occurred.
President Barack Obama has hit on a scheme to guarantee full employment in his American Jobs Act all right—full employment for the trial layers. The rest of those who don't have jobs will just have to wait a while longer.