The folks running the show in Washington seem genuinely bewildered that the unemployment rate remains high in spite of throwing hundreds of billions of dollars into “stimulus.”
I can solve this mystery for them.
The reality is that while the government has been tossing out stimulus candy with its right hand, its been using the left (its dominant hand) to wage a relentless war on the only ones who can actually create private sector jobs–businesses.
This war has been particularly brutal against small to medium sized businesses, the sector of the economy which just happens to be the one which has produced the majority of new jobs in recent decades. This is something David Brooks pointed out in his NYT column yesterday. (hat tip, Fergus!)
And today the National Federation of Independent Business released a study which reveals that only ten percent of small businesses have any hope of making new hires in the coming year. The news release also said:
Small businesses grew more pessimistic about their economic outlook in June in the face of weak sales and political uncertainty, the National Federal of Independent Businesses said on Tuesday.
That phrase “political uncertainty” is a tactful way of saying “We don’t know for sure in what new ways our own government is going to be making things harder for us in the months to come so we’re going to just hunker down and pray.”
It stands to reason that if you’re actively creating an environment of threat and uncertainty for job providers, while simultaneously running massive deficits that will require taking more and more money out of the pockets of consumers through higher taxes, they are not going to be inclined to take the risks associated with providing new jobs.
This war began in earnest when the Dems took control of both houses of Congress in 2006. But it shifted into high gear when Mr. Obama took the oath of office.
The elements of this multi-fronted attack have included:
- The strengthening of labor unions–politically and legally. Obama-Reid-Pelosi have taken huge steps to help Big Labor do for the rest of America what it has done for Michigan and the Rust Belt states. That is, turn them into vast wastelands of unemployed workers, abandoned homes, and boarded up commercial buildings.
- The strengthening of OSHA and other regulatory bodies. The Obama Labor Department has sicced OSHA on business owners giving the dreaded agency additional funding and a fresh mandate to be all over employers like ants on a dropped Kit Kat bar. (At least OSHA’s mission hasn’t been expanded to include outreach to the Muslim world.) But it’s not just OSHA, every regulatory agency inside the beltway is freshly restocked with reams of red tape with which to mummify any poor entrepreneur foolish enough to harbor dreams of growing a business.
- The health care take over. Business owners know that by creating another massive underfunded entitlement and the bloated bureaucracies that invariably accompany it the Dems have activated another ticking debt bomb.
- The threat of Cap and Trade legislation. The likely economic costs of the proposed “cap and trade” legislation the Dems keep trying to ram through Congress are so enormous, the burdens placed upon U.S. businesses so immense, the CBO has given up on even trying to calculate them.
- The threat of increased capital gains taxes. If you want to get less of something, tax it. The Cap Gains tax is a tax on investment income. Increase the taxes on investment and you’re going to get less investment in business enterprises. In fact, as the chart below shows, cap gains revenue goes up when rates go down because of increased investment activity, and vice versa. By some credible estimates, the increase in the cap gains tax already locked into place by the Dems will cost the U.S. economy 700k jobs.
- Hidden racial and gender quotas in the financial “reform” bill. There is a lot of blame to spread around for the economic debacle of the last two years. But no two individuals are more responsible for the bad policies that brought it about than Sen. Christopher Dodd and Rep. Barney Frank. So who do the Dems get to draft the legislation designed to prevent another collapse? You guessed it.
Some deep digging into the language of the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform bill recently revealed that the presence of a provision calling for a new federal bureaucracy and host of new quotas relating to race and gender in finance-related companies. It’s a prescription for inefficiency, corruption, and confusion. But for civil rights shakedown artists like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, it’s a dream come true.
I could add dozens of other items to this list. Of course, you must add to all of the above discussion of a VAT tax, a Justice Department that seems to be governed by the values of Louis Farrakhan, and a general dual vibe of ineptitude and arrogance by our president, and you have a prescription for a siege mentality on the part of American business owners.
When I hear someone on television suggest that the government isn’t doing enough to help our economy, I find myself suppressing the impulse to shout at the screen. We don’t need Obama, Reid, Pelosi and company to do more. We need them to do less. Much less.
Stop this war, Mr. President. Stop the war on American business owners. Do that and the economy will take care of itself in surprisingly short order.