As President Barack Obama swung through North Carolina yesterday, he did all he could to show that he cares about the U.S. economy, its 9.1 percent unemployment rate, and the 13.9 million Americans who remain out of work. Well, that is, until he let a bit of honesty slip off his tongue.

During a meeting with his Jobs and Competitiveness Council—a group of CEOs the President created to give him advice on the economy—conversation turned to Obama’s $787 billion stimulus that promised to “create or save” 3.5 million new jobs by 2011 by pumping money into “shovel ready” jobs. Confronting the reality that his stimulus failed, the President quipped, “Shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected.” The council, led by GE’s Jeffrey Immelt, burst into laughter.

But for those millions of jobless Americans who have not seen the promise of Obama’s stimulus come to fruition, unemployment is no laughing matter. Still, though, that reality escapes those on the left who continue to cling to the notion that President Obama’s big government, Keynesian policies have succeeded despite all evidence to the contrary.

Case in point: On Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” host David Gregory confronted DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz with the cold hard facts—unemployment is up 25 percent since President Obama’s inauguration day, the debt is up 35 percent, a gallon of gas is up 104 percent, and 59 percent of Americans disapprove of the President’s handling of the economy. Wasserman Schultz’s reply that, in all likelihood, is still spinning like a top two days later: “We were able to, under President Obama’s leadership, turn this economy around.”

Obviously enough, the economy has not turned around. In a roundtable published by Barron’s magazine, 10 money managers and financial market experts were unanimous in their belief that slower economic growth is in store for the second half of 2011. Meanwhile, economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal say that the biggest risk to the U.S. economy’s recovery is a slowdown in hiring. On average, they expect the economy to add just 2.2 million jobs over the next year. And to make matters worse, Bill Gross of the Pimco investment firm told CNBC that the United States is in worse financial shape than Greece when its public debt is added to all the money owed to cover future liabilities in entitlement programs.

Or if you apply simple logic, if the economy had turned the corner, the President wouldn’t need to tour the country to convince America that down is up, night is day, and that he’s doing a great job getting people back to work.

In another bit of unintentional Obama economy comedy, the LA Times‘ Peter Nicholas laments today that “traditional tools to jolt the economy [are] largely exhausted or unavailable” to the President—more spending and tax cuts are off the table, he writes, because Congress is “concerned with reducing the federal debt.” Remember, though, that debt comes from spending, and it’s Obama’s reliance on spending that has helped put us where we are today. Heritage’s James Sherk and Rea Hederman, Jr., write:

The President responded to the recession with the stimulus, which massively expanded the size of government. President Obama now fiercely resists attempts to reduce spending and insists on dealing with the deficit by raising taxes on “the rich”—i.e., successful entrepreneurs and business owners. Increased government spending displaces private-sector business investment.

Other Obama policies that have made America’s economic picture worse include the President’s health care plan (which makes hiring new workers significantly more expensive, while leaving uncertainty over future costs); an increased effort to foist unionization on employers and employees; a refusal to submit trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama (that would create new business opportunities, along with tens of thousands of jobs); and an opposition to increasing domestic energy production, which will leave Americans to grapple with high energy costs.

There are, in fact, things the President can do to help the economy get on the right track. As Sherk and Hederman note, it starts with opening the door for entrepreneurs and businesses to expand and create new jobs by lifting the stifling regulations and burdens that have been created in the past two years.

President Obama might want to joke about jobs or downplay his failures as mere “bumps on the road.” He might also like to blame America’s troubles on the previous Administration or “unease about the European fiscal situation.” The truth, though, is a different story, and rather than joking, downplaying, or blaming, it’s time for the President to get to work on fixing the problem.

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