The Keynesian government-spending model has proven a complete failure.
It’s the Obama model.
And it has produced such an anemic recovery that frankly, at 2 percent growth, we’re back on the front end of a potential recession. If anything goes wrong -- like another blow-up in Europe -- there’s no safety margin to stop a new recession.
And that brings us to the grim May employment report, which generated only 69,000 nonfarm payrolls. It’s the third consecutive subpar tally, replete with downward revisions for the two prior months. It’s a devastating number for the American economy, and a catastrophic number for Obama’s reelection hopes. All momentum on jobs and the economy has evaporated.
Inside the May report, the data is just as bad. The unemployment rate rose slightly from 8.1 to 8.2 percent. The so called U6 unemployment rate, tracking the marginally employed or completely discouraged, increased to 14.8 percent from 14.5 percent. And labor earnings are barely rising at 1.7 percent over the past year, almost in line with the inflation rate. In fact, through April, after-tax, after-inflation income is scarcely rising at 0.6 percent for the past year.
The private workweek also fell in May. So did the manufacturing workweek and aggregate hours worked for all employees. The small-business household survey did rise, but that follows declines in the prior two months.
Barack Obama doesn’t get this, but businesses create jobs. And firms have to be profitable in order to hire. Yet the president is on the campaign trail criticizing Mitt Romneyby degrading the importance of profits. Huh?
Without profits businesses can’t expand. And if they don’t expand, they can’t hire. And if they don’t have profitable rates of return, they’re not going to attract new capital for investment.
Which brings us to a couple of important reasons for the virtual freeze in hiring.
First there’s the fiscal tax cliff. If all the Bush tax rates go up, incentives will go down and liquidity will leave the system. You can’t pick up a newspaper these days and not find a story about how the fiscal cliff is elevating uncertainty and slowing U.S. growth. House Speaker John Boehner asked Obama for help in extending the Bush tax cuts this summer. But Obama said no. Instead, he wants to raise marginal tax rates on successful upper-income earners, capital gains, dividends, estates, and many successful corporations.
Where’s the corporate tax reform that would lower rates and broaden the base and end the double-taxation of the overseas profits of American companies? A business tax cut would help enormously, but it’s nowhere in sight. Neither is the Keystone Pipeline, which is a surefire job-creator. Obama is too busy trashing Bain Capital profits and Romney’s business career, both of which, by the way, have recently been praised by former president Bill Clinton. (It was Clinton, you might recall, who lowered investment taxes and presided over an economic boom.)
A second uncertainty facing businesses is the Supreme Court decision on Obamacare due in a few weeks. If all those crazy tax-and-regulation mandates are deemed unconstitutional, it’s Katy bar the door as businesses put profits to work and hire. But they’re not going to move until they see that court decision.