One of my pet peeves is government-backed job training programs, often boondoggles that, ironically, provide paid loafing time. But President Obama demonstrates a touching faith in the power of such programs (“Obama Offers Training Plan Designed for High-Tech Jobs”)

Confronting the challenge of running for re-election while the unemployment rate remains stubbornly high, President Obama convened a session of his new jobs council on Monday, offering a proposal to train 10,000 American engineering students a year in a program focused on filling high-tech jobs.

The program, which Mr. Obama unveiled during a visit to a lighting manufacturer here, would seek to marry private companies with colleges and universities in a bid to encourage students to focus on science, technology, engineering and math degrees.

In the very next sentence, the president notes:

“Right now, there are more than four job seekers for every job opening in America,” Mr. Obama said, in remarks at Cree Inc., which makes L.E.D. products. “But when it comes to science and high-tech fields, the opposite is true: businesses like this tell me they’re having a hard time finding workers to fill their job openings.”  

So let me get this straight: Instead of creating more jobs so that there will be more job openings than job seekers, the administration wants to train workers for a more rarefied form of employment. I’m all for filling these jobs, but I would prefer that applicants for jobs requiring more training get the training on their own. But not to worry–this is is one taxpayer-supported job training program that is unlikely to get past the talking phase.

Even the Obama-friendly New York Times noted:

It was unclear how Mr. Obama planned to finance his latest jobs proposals. The administration is locked in a debate with Congressional Republicans over long-term spending and deficit reduction, facing an August deadline for a decision on raising the country’s debt ceiling.

Well, that sort of gives the game away, doesn’t it? This proposal is unserious, an attempt at keeping North Carolina in the Obama column in 2012, a prospect that has grown dimmer because of high unemployment in the state. In addition to the unserious job training idea, Obama made an unbecoming joke about the bad economy.

Most Americans aren’t laughing about the economy. This was one of those moments in which the president showed himself as fundamentally out of step with the rest of us.