Saturday, February 5, 2011

Unintended Consequences

The economic recovery in the US is stillborn. All the various "initiatives" enacted by the Congress since September of 2008 have virtually guaranteed that the economy cannot have a robust recovery, the kind of recovery that, from previous recessions brought the economy back to full strength. Instead, the new credit rules, the new financial regulations, the new health care mandates, the new tax gimmicks, and the business-demonizing atmosphere of the Obama Administration all serve to slow down economic recovery and to create long term stagnation in employment and economic growth.

The Administration seems truly puzzled by all of this. The lame duck session, extending the Bush tax cuts for two years, simply avoided disaster. The tax cut extension, since it is a temporary two year extension, cannot possibly stimulate the economy in any meaningful way. Changing the rhetoric in the White House is certainly an improvement but is totally inadequate given the enactment of legislation in 2009 and 2010 that shackles businesses and makes adding employees prohibitively expensive.

Businesses can be seen as growth engines and employment generators or they can be seen as purveyors of social causes. They can't do both. More and more,American business is expected to avoid profit maximizing behavior and be good citizens, promoting various social causes. Being good social citizens and promoting social causes inevitably means growing slower, hiring fewer employees and being less dynamic. That's where we are. The "green jobs" rhetoric is nothing more than rhetoric.

It is time to set aside "feel good" rhetoric and create a business environment favorable to jobs creation. So far, the President doesn't seem to get it. He seems genuinely surprised that American business, reeling from the blows of his policies and rhetoric, isn't racing to create jobs and rescue his presidency.

If your main economic banner is "no tax cuts for the rich," then economic stagnation is probably your future. What is needed is the elimination of the numerous barriers to economic prosperity that the Obama Administration and a compliant (and long gone) Congress put in place. What is needed is no less than a complete dismantling of the legislation passed in the last two years by the Congress. Then and only then can a truly vibrant economy take over.

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