Today’s Labor Department jobs report is a study in contrasts. For example, on the one hand the labor market is notably less weak than in recent months. December’s 85,000 drop in employment according to the payroll survey is markedly better than the monthly average of over 275,000 jobs lost during the third quarter and followed a 4,000 job gain in November. On the other hand, the Obama jobs deficit – the difference between current employment and the level President Obama promised when he sold his economic plan to the American people – has hit 7.7 million jobs. As Desi Arnez used to say on I Love Lucy, Obama’s “got a lot of ‘splainin to do”.

Barack Obama promised that if elected he would create 3.5 million jobs by the end of 2010 through new economic policies, beginning with the enactment of a massive economic stimulus package. So far in his term in office, employment has dropped by about 3.4 million jobs, while the unemployment rate remains stuck at 10 percent. Accompanying his jobs promise, the President also emphasized accountability and measuring his presidency by results. The President’s jobs promise means total employment should be at least 138.6 million by 2010. Actual employment as of December was reported to be 130.9 million, leaving the Obama jobs deficit at 7.7 million.

Fortunately, the economy’s natural recuperative powers mean the recession may be ending in the sense that overall output and incomes are growing, albeit slowly. Even so, job losses may continue for some months and a very high unemployment rate could persist for years. By his own standard, the Obama jobs deficit attests that his policies have so far failed and show no sign of succeeding.

A fundamental course correction is needed. Unfortunately, Obama has signaled he intends to press for more of the same ineffective, debt ballooning fiscal stimulus that failed for President Bush, failed for President Obama the first time, and must necessarily fail again as Brian Riedl explains. President Obama should jettison his ideological baggage and begin to advance policies that would in fact and not just in phrase begin to help the economy, policies like halting the tax hike parade and cutting burdensome government regulations.