President Barack Obama has not kept his campaign promise to work across the aisle and bring people together to solve America’s problems. On his most sweeping legislative initiatives – the $831 billion stimulus bill and healthcare reform – he sought no common ground with political opponents, nor did he incorporate pro-business ideas to generate bipartisan support. Rather than unite us with common sense solutions to our economic woes, the president has shown he is fundamentally hostile to job creators and the free enterprise system.
The results speak for themselves. The president’s economic record has been abysmal. For most Americans job growth and confidence in the future are the most significant yardsticks. Yet nearly 23 million people are either out of work or underemployed or have just given up looking. We have seen the longest streak of 8 percent-plus unemployment since the Great Depression during this administration and consumer confidence is in the tank.
But perhaps that’s to be expected. With all due respect, President Obama has never run a business, created a job or made a payroll. If he had, he would know that revenues and profits spent on activities such as regulatory compliance and bureaucratic paperwork do not generate an economic return for a company and also drain the ability of an entity to compete.
Instead of chastising companies for their corporate airplanes, he could have heard how we have spent millions of dollars on regulatory compliance from an alphabet soup of government agencies – EPA, DOL, OSHA, NLRB, FTC, EEOC, HHS – sunk costs that cannot be redeployed to buy new equipment, hire new workers or build a new factory.
Instead of listening to what job creators need, the president demonizes us because we want abundant, low-cost domestic energy sources so we can run our plants cost-effectively and be globally competitive against countries with lower labor costs, higher export subsidies and undervalued currencies.
Instead of asking how government can get out of the way and make it easier for businesses to thrive and hire, the administration has spent the past three years adding layer after layer of burdensome regulations and operating in a culture of aggressive and counter-productive regulatory enforcement.
We do not disagree with reasonable regulation and effective oversight. However, it is 20 percent more expensive to do business in the U.S. than it is in our nine largest trading partners, excluding the cost of labor. In the last three years alone, the Environmental Protection Agency has attempted to impose a number of significant new regulations. New rules for electric utilities will require a major overhaul of power plants – which is expected to cost $90 billion and result in double-digit electricity price increases in at least 30 states. Tough new carbon emission limits amount to a de facto ban on construction of new coal-fired power plants – our country’s cheapest source of electricity.
A better approach
Not only does President Obama not know how businesses operate, but he opposes the very free-market principles that built our economy and made America the greatest engine of growth on the planet. His signature stimulus package failed to stimulate anything. Any CEO in America could have told the president that the Recovery Act lacked pro-growth, private sector provisions to encourage companies to create permanent jobs. In fact, the stimulus had the exact opposite effect, leading to more government borrowing and contributing to a fiscal path for our nation that is not sustainable.
Instead of endorsing needless government intervention and free-spending policies that benefit labor unions and other Democratic special interests, we need to elect pro-business candidates who embrace free enterprise to turn our country around. We need elected officials who will:
• Adopt a bipartisan plan (such as Bowles-Simpson) that will reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade;
• Reform our ineffective, anti-competitive tax system by broadening the base and simplifying the code;
• Put a cap on new regulations and require Congress to approve major new ones;
• Approve the Keystone pipeline and open federal lands and waters for energy development;
• Guarantee all workers the right to a secret ballot in union elections;
• Confront China over its unfair trade practices, including currency manipulation.
Free enterprise has created more jobs and lifted more people out of poverty over the past two centuries than any government program in history. Instead, we now have a governing class that discounts growth and prosperity in favor of increased government control over the economy. With their prescription of excessive borrowing, over-taxation and higher spending, the U.S. economy is in the weakest recovery since the Great Depression and our credit rating was downgraded for the first time in history.
With a record like this, we simply can’t afford another four years.