Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Jobs Speech the President Won't Make

The headline two years and eight months into the Obama presidency and a week before his “jobs” speech was “zero job growth in August, unemployment stuck at 9.1%”.  Unemployment is actually 2.0% higher than it was when he took office.  Policies favoring certain segments of society, and policies that promote politically correct economic activity have been the hallmark of this administration.  Unfortunately, the result is sluggish, or no, growth, a persistent high and unacceptable unemployment rate, and an unsustainable level of debt. I hope that President Obama will recognize that he needs to change course dramatically if we are to get our economy moving.  Here are some of the things the President should propose in his speech to stimulate our economy and create jobs.

The Affordable Care Act is complicated and extremely costly for tax payers and employers, and the uncertainty associated with its implementation over the next several years is creating anxiety throughout our economy as employers try to guess how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will impact them.  Congress should repeal this legislation and adjust existing laws to allow health insurance companies the freedom to compete across state lines.  In order to address the problem of uninsured Americans Congress should a program of incentives and subsidies to directly attack this problem.

Our energy policy has focused on developing alternative sources of energy through tax incentives, and higher rates for consumers and businesses, while impeding the development of fossil fuel sources here in the U.S.  Alternative energy sources cannot be developed fast enough to get our economy moving. Congress should work to support development of domestic resources including coal, natural gas, and oil, with a focus on lowering the cost of energy for businesses and consumers.  This will reduce dependence on foreign oil and allow us to compete more effectively in the world economy.

The Environmental Protection Agency has promulgated many new regulations over the past few years designed to protect us from global warming and keep our air and water clean.  Unfortunately, the regulations, while well-intentioned, are hurting our economy and our competitiveness worldwide.  The President should ask for a delay in the imposition of any new regulation until its full impact on the economy can be weighed.

The National Labor Relations Board under the guise of looking out for the best interests of workers has become particularly aggressive in inserting itself into private sector business when it feels that unions have somehow been left out.  The recent lawsuit brought by the NLRB against Boeing to prevent Boeing from opening a plant in South Carolina, a right-to-work state, is an example.  The result is that the NLRB action will at best delay the opening of the plant with 2,000 workers, or, at worst, force Boeing overseas.   Obama should insist that the NLRB withdraw this suit and refrain from employing the type of union bias evidenced in this case.  Jobs are more important to Americans that union membership and representation.

The Justice Department recently announced that it is suing 17 major banks in the U.S. for their role in the mortgage debacle of 2007 and 2008. First of all, there is much blame to go around for that crisis.  Singling out the banks while ignoring the Congressional actions that contributed to the problem along with the enabling involvement of quasi government agencies like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is simply wrong.  Moreover, we need these banks to help get the economy going again.  That will be hard for them to accomplish that if they must operate under the cloud of litigation initiated by our own government.  The Justice Department should drop these suits and focus on ensuring that our regulatory agencies provide better oversight so that the kind of lapses that contributed to the mortgage crisis are identified sooner.  

Finally, Congress acted too quickly in attempting to prevent another financial crisis by passing the Dodd-Frank Bill without weighing its impact on the economy.   The bill is extremely complicated in itself and it will require thousands of pages of new regulations to implement it.  The banks are experiencing uncertainty and huge expenses in trying to anticipate and implement the regulations.  The result is not only that banks are adopting a defensive posture when it comes to investment and job creation, but the new costs are being passed on to consumers and businesses reducing purchasing power and capacity to invest. This bill should be repealed.   
Jobs are created by business people hiring workers. Business people hire workers when they have confidence in their future ability to earn profits.  Businesses respond negatively to uncertainty, overregulation, higher costs and higher taxes.  If President Obama were to announce these steps outlined here, he would unleash the American economy and we would see the kind of employment growth that he has claimed to want since he first took office.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hat Tip to Vermont's Silent Cal

Powerlineblog today quoted Pres. Calvin Coolidge, one of the most underrated presidents in U.S. history.  Since Pres. Coolidge came from Vermont, Bayley Hazen Blog will use the legal right of  adverse possession to post the link.  As the Powerlineblog post notes in quoting Vermont's Cal Coolidge, our current President certainly could use Silent Cal's wisdom:

“It is a great advantage to a President, and a major source of safety to the country, for him to know that he is not a great man.  When a man begins to feel that he is the only one who can lead in this republic, he is guilty of treason to the spirit of our institutions.”
“A President cannot, with success, constantly appeal to the country.  After a time he will get no response.”
Here is Powerline's post on President Coolidge 

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Dangers of Corporatism

Solyandra is (or was) a company that made solar panels.  As such, it was a darling of the Obama administration's "green energy" initiatives.  However, after receiving $535 million dollars in taxpayer funded loan guarantees as a part of the Obama stimulus, and after a visit from the President,  it  filed for bankruptcy, laying off over 1000 workers--which of course wiped out its loan obligation, leaving Uncle Sam as guarantor holding the bag.  The Los Angeles Times, no right wing rag,  cogently editorializes about the dangers of corporatism:  the government playing favorites with certain private industries or companies.  Here is the money quote:  

The Times answers the first with a yes, saying that risky energy ventures need government backing.  But the second question calls into question the first:  if the government picks corporate winners and losers,  politics, no matter which party is in power, will  inevitably come into play.  Ethanol subsidies are a prime example. Costing taxpayers $6 Billion dollars a year in subsidies, and increasing food costs world wide, subsidies for ethanol have been touted as promoting green energy produced in the United States, mostly by Republicans who want to reward their electoral base in the Midwest.  Democrats like Rep. Welch want to cut the subsidy while advocating subsidies for Democratic favorites like solar power and high speed rail. Powerful lobbyists for these  industries are ensconced permanently in Washington D.C.  The losers?  as usual, the taxpayers.  But other losers are small businesses who are struggling without grants or subsidies because, while they are providing a service or product to the public,  are not on the government's favorites list either because they are not part of the latest fad in Washington, or they cannot afford to employ lobbyists to grab some of Washington's largess.