Our nation’s top challenge is the economy. Simply put, the economy is not producing enough jobs.
We are in the midst of the longest stretch of high unemployment since the Great Depression. These jobless Americans receive an array of social services from Medicaid to unemployment to welfare.
Today some half of all Americans receives government benefits and about half of Americans don’t pay federal income taxes. More jobs would mean more government tax revenue and less government spending. More jobs would lower the federal deficit and build a better nation for our children.
So our challenge is simple: how can we get more jobs? After two stimulus packages, “cash for clunkers,” first time homebuyers' tax credit, payroll tax holidays and Bush-era tax cut extensions, it may be dawning on both Republicans and Democrats that these strategies are simply adding to the deficit but don’t constitute a long-term job strategy. More, we will have to tax future generations to pay for our short-lived sugar highs of higher spending or lower taxes.
Now I don’t fault anyone, including Republicans, for wanting lower taxes. I don’t fault Democrats for their well-intentioned belief that government spending creates anything more than temporary jobs based on borrowed funds.
I admire President Obama’s equanimity, genuine concern for our future and passionate view about the positive role of government. He is also a likeable leader and has performed admirably in many ways beyond what his limited experience in executive roles would suggest.
But I believe the Obama administration has hurt job creation in two big ways:
First, President Obama himself is the most anti-business president in my lifetime. With rhetoric not befitting a president he has attacked oil companies, banks, airplane users, Wall Street and anyone who makes money. Yet, he seems to forget that if you are making money you are in the best position to create jobs.
When the president of the United States is using the bully pulpit to excoriate business at every turn and push the 99 and one percent rhetoric, he is leading by dividing. CEOs are understandably reluctant to invest and hire when they believe the nation’s CEO is out to get them.
To be fair, the president recently has tempered his remarks and his actions – but probably because it’s an election year, not because he has had a change of heart.
He recently signed legislation freeing up more wireless broadband spectrum and has embraced a jobs bill that overwhelmingly passed the House and allows start-ups to obtain funding more easily. But he still is at war with bigger companies by reversing his promise for a fairer treatment of corporate taxes compared to our international competitors, and his new budget actually proposes higher taxes on our biggest global companies.
Meanwhile, the Obama White House continues to reject any compromise with House Republicans on long-term budget and entitlement reforms. On Tuesday, Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan offered a wise and necessary adult budget blueprint that seeks to get America’s fiscal house in order. Yet the White House summarily rejected the plan, saying it “fails the test of balance, fairness and share responsibility.”
Second, he has also hurt job creation in America by his own hiring: generally speaking he has hired people who threaten and burden all American businesses with new regulation. In fact, most Americans believe that the administration has hurt business in this country with too much regulation.
The administration has been populated by bright, well-meaning but incredibly obtrusive wonks who view job creators as the enemy who should be strait-jacketed, investigated and regulated. Think of the National Labor Relations Board shutting down the new Boeing plant, the Fish and Wildlife Department storming the Gibson plant, the constant stream of government investigations into Google’s innovations, and the nascent federal investigation of Apple for launching a successful electronic book model. These are all government attacks on business innovation.
But these are not just isolated cases. Almost every major business has had to employ legions of lawyers and lobbyists just to deal with the choking Obama administration proposals designed to regulate the innovation out of business. A report released on March 13 by the Heritage Foundation details how 106 Obama administration rules have added $46 billion per year in new costs for Americans – exceeding the Bush comparable time period by four times the number and more than five times the cost. More, hundreds of new rules are being actively considered. Every one of these is a huge cost on business and a jobs killer.
Americans want jobs. Businesses want to hire. But they need stability and a government that is not the enemy. We can have jobs and a lower deficit with leadership that recognizes that job creators and innovators will hire Americans if they are not demonized and strangled with regulation.
Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®, the U.S. trade association representing more than 2,000 consumer electronics companies, and author of the New York Times bestselling book, “The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream.”