by Rob Schwarzwalder
The fact that President Obama will hold a “jobs summit” to figure out how jobs are created is perhaps the saddest commentary of all on the farce that is about to begin. It seems like good timing as our unemployment rate is over 10 percent, and well into the double-digits in some parts of the country.
Yet having a job creation debate at the White House is disheartening. Shouldn’t an American President have some sense of how our market-based, competitive economy works?
More pointedly, the “summit” will produce no noticeable change in the policies of an Administration woefully and aggressively against the essential principles of the greatest jobs engine every designed or implemented, a free enterprise system based on property rights and capital formation.
Among the attendees will be Paul Krugman, the hard-Left columnist for the New York Times and near-pathological hater of all things conservative; Krugman wrote this week that the budget-cracking stimulus plan the White House enacted earlier this year was too small.
Also included will be a group of union leaders (by the way, what does the head of a teachers’ union know about employment policy?); Clinton Administration economists Joe Stiglitz and Alan Blinder; and the head of the “Center for Budget and Policy Priorities,” a left-liberal group whose Board members include (you guess it) George Soros and his buddies in that paradigm of union corruption, the Service Employees International Union.
Sundry business leaders will be thrown in to add a veneer of credibility, but the major business groups are absent from the current public list, as are members of the academic community who oppose statist economic policies. Sadly, business leaders are also absent from the Obama administration as well, as none of his top people worked in business or industry creating profit driven businesses and jobs.
According to the Associated Press, a Treasury Department report issued last month states that the federal deficit “hit a record for October as the new budget year began where the old one ended: with the government awash in red ink.” Treasury also warned that “the deficit for October totaled $176.4 billion, even higher than the $150 billion imbalance that economists expected.” Note: this is the deficit for a single month – not a calendar year.
Well, at the risk of sounding pretentious (I am not, like President Obama or Dr. Krugman, a Nobel Prize winner), here are five ideas distilled from leading economists dating from Adam Smith through the current day: If the President and his allies want to create jobs, they should:
(1) Quit spending the country into economic oblivion, farming out our debt to foreign creditors who will someday soon call in their loans and damaging our nation’s economy. If you stop overspending, you will also ameliorate the growing fear of many investors that we are on the verge of monetizing the debt, simply printing worthless bills that will hyper-inflate our currency. Fiscal discipline, if dramatic and real, will energize the markets.
(2) Cut taxes – on individuals and families, on major firms and S-corporations. Cut the dividend tax. Cut the income tax. Cut capital gains taxes. Cut, and cut some more. The private sector creates wealth, and lower taxes foster growth in the private sector, which in turn generates tax revenue for the federal government.
(3) Reduce and simplify a vast federal regulatory apparatus that confuses and cripples business expansion. Corporate America, from the multi-thousand international company employers to the Mom-and-Pop linoleum shops in the strip malls, are encumbered by regulations. We all know it. Bring rationality to this area, Mr. President, and you both demonstrate true courage and the enduring thanks of business people everywhere.
(4) End the government-mandated “health care reform” madness, which will further impose on our companies and employees growing fiscal, legal and regulatory burdens. Target those things in our system that don’t work and offer market-based incentives and tax reforms that will enable insurance providers to better serve the underserved.
(5) Reform entitlements: Social Security and Medicare are economic Grim Reapers, standing athwart America’s future and intoning, “We’re waiting.” Mr. Obama, want to make (good) history? Tackle entitlements, bring market-based reforms to them and then devise and implement a plan to devolve them back to the states.
Of course, nothing I have recommended will likely be put into effect while Barack Obama is in the White House, or at least while Democrats hold both Houses of Congress.
But no argument is ever won unless you make it. And, today perhaps more than any time in our history, conservatives need to be making these arguments.
The jobs lost and not created are creating a strain on the American family, and more and more men and women struggle to put food on the table. The Obama jobs summit is, then, not just about macro-economic policy, philosophical pedantry or whatever. It’s about families, real people in economic crisis. And that’s everyone’s business.