Friday, June 15, 2012

The President and Business

We had the first presidential debate yesterday in Ohio.  Of course, they were 220 miles apart at the time.  But they at least were talking about the same subject at the same time and the cameras were rolling.

The topic was economic growth.  Obama’s message was pretty much this: We’ve got more work to do but if you vote for Romney it’ll be like putting Bush back in office…and we know how he crashed the economy before I came to office.

Well, he’s giving Bush too much credit.  Obama left out the good part about Barney Frank and the GSEs killing the housing market by ignoring the warnings about bad loans.

And Romney’s message was this: Obama’s policies do not instill confidence in government and do not encourage business growth.

And Mitt’s message didn’t exactly spell out specifics except to repeal Obamacare.

But rather than trade barbs it would be refreshing to have a candidate talk to us like adults and explain the relationship between business and government.

My fantasy candidate would say something like this:
The United States and Japan compete for the highest business tax rates in the world, something approaching 40%.  And that leads to all the loopholes giving Obama the speech fodder that giant corporation XYZ doesn’t pay any taxes.  But ask any small business owner and you’ll get an earful about taxes.

Contrary to popular, political rhetoric government does not create private sector jobs.  But it does impact business in the following ways:
  • Taxation
  • Regulation – EPA and OSHA for example
  • Union laws – like card check
  • Tariffs and trade agreements
  • Labor laws – like Obamacare, minimum wage, pension laws
  • Favoritism – like SBA loans, green grants, bailouts

As you can see, a progressive/liberal president can create a hostile environment rather quickly using the above tools…all in the name of “spreading the wealth around.”  And as the Occupy crowd has illustrated, Obama’s efforts are never enough to satisfy them.  Then again, the Occupy crowd is opposed to free market capitalism.  Their fringe view of what America should be is gratefully not embraced by most of us.

Although not as radical as OWS, Obama can scarcely claim to be pro-business when he spent the first two years in office promoting card check, cap and trade and Obamacare.  It wasn’t until the midterms that he invited business leaders to the White House for a powwow.

Getting serious about reforming the business climate here will take time and effort.  It will require undoing regulations and statutes built up over the years.  Where taxes are concerned, it will require cutting federal programs to prevent further deficit spending.  In short, something’s gotta give if we’re going to have less tax revenue.

The green initiative is well-entrenched.  Changing EPA regulations will take time.  In the short term we can do what other presidents have done; cut off enforcement funding and be selective through directive.  In other words, pick-and-choose the regulations you will enforce and the ones you will ignore.

Right-to-work has some traction and I will not support any efforts to force unions into American businesses.

We need to have a serious discussion in this country about the trade imbalance.  Twenty years ago politicians used to discuss that.  We’ve surrendered to global interests and lost the ability to manufacture our own consumer goods.  The grandiose concept of a service economy has failed.  Dare I use the word “Protectionism”?  Yes, I do.

But I warn you that we have been living in a world of cheap, imported goods.  Bringing manufacturing home will be hard on your wallet. 

Playing favorites has not been effective.  Be it loans to so-called minority-owned businesses, green technology manufacturers or bailouts to car companies we need to get government out of these businesses.  And we need to review all subsidies as well.  Why are we giving them?  Is it in our best interest to continue doing so? 

So you see, untying the knot formed by an assortment of congressmen and presidents over the years will not be easy.  Perhaps it will be impossible.  But that is what needs to be done and I am willing to try.

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