President Barack Obama spent his first 11 months in the White House hammering on the wrong problems—reforming healthcare and capping carbon emissions—instead of the right one: unemployment.
Now he is ready, alas, to wage upwards of $100 billion to $200 billion in new spending to “create” jobs (something business, not government, should do). But he’s like a gawky high school freshman making his debut on the dance floor: He means well, he’s working hard—but he’s doing way too much.
Taxpayers already are on the hook for the $700 billion Tarp bailout scheme. We’re on the hook,
also, for the $787 billion stimulus package (even as unemployment kept rising), and we haven’t even spent through all of it yet. The slender portion of the stim-pack that went to actual construction projects now has petered out, as contractors lay off the temps they had hired.
The Obama Posse sees all this as reason to do more, more, more. But it actually mounts a compelling argument for doing less.
Government simply is less capable of spending money wisely than business is, because government has an inexhaustible supply of capital. It can, and will, raise our income taxes to cover any stumbles.
Worse, the feds are late to the unemployment party. The new jobless report out late last week shows our economy already has begun to heal—without more government largesse. We lost only 11,000 jobs in November, the lowest total in a year or more. The unemployment rate fell to 10% from 10.2%. Temporary jobs are up (an indicator of a hiring bounceback), as are overtime hours and the total number of hours worked.
So why can’t we sit back and wait a while for things to gel?
One reason is that all politicians have a genetic need to be seen as “doing something.” It’s the knee-jerk response that saddled our economy, then still reeling from the Enron scandal, with burdensome and ineffectual Sarbanes-Oxley rules.
Sarbox ate up earnings growth at small companies, prompted new stock listings to defect to exchanges overseas, and resulted in wary companies disclosing less information rather than more. And it did nothing to stop the next meltdown.
But a bigger reason why Obama can’t just sit back and wait is that Bam, who never has really worked in business, believes Government, with a capital ‘G,’ is the answer. Some examples of an Obama who does too much:
--The Environmental Protection Agency this week declares carbon dioxide a hazardous material (never mind that it’s something we all exhale). This magically makes it fall under the Clean Air Act, granting the EPA overlord status over the entire U.S. economy and possibly adding billions in new compliance costs for business.
--The Justice Department’s anti-trust cops are getting’ in the grill of some of the most successful competitors out there: Intel , Google , IBM , Apple and more. Not because consumers have been harmed in any way by these companies’ moves—they haven’t—but just to make sure something can’t go wrong. Later.
--The Federal Trade Commission wants to force millions of bloggers to reveal any sponsor ties when they write about any product. Never mind the First Amendment implications: anyone out there know thousands of people hurt by this lack of disclosure?
--The Food and Drug Administration now tries to intervene before something bad happens, rather than responding swiftly to real threats. Under Obama, it has ordered recalls of medications that have treated millions amid unconfirmed reports that maybe hundreds got hurt.
--Obama’s new “consumer financial protection agency” would create an entirely new bureaucracy to enforce rules and laws that already are on the books. It would be so restrictive as to crimp credit for small businesses and stop them from hiring, says a new report from the non-partisan National Center for Policy Analysis.
After the Reagan Revolution of 1980, we spent three decades believing less government is better—even the Democrats’ previous man in the White House, President Clinton, concurred. Our new President believes in Government-on-Overdrive. There’s every reason to fear that our economy will suffer for it.
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