THE $450 BILLION JOBS BILL: OBAMA'S MAGINOT LINE
At the lowest point of his presidency, with the economy in shambles (14 million out of work, unemployment at 9.1 percent, and no end to recession in sight), the President presented his much touted speech on jobs. The speech is remarkable in what the President did not offer. It invites voters, on reflection, to reaffirm that Obama is politically and ideologically incapable of saving the nation from economic ruin. His $450 billion jobs bill is premised on the same flawed rationale of every other stimulus bill: that the government, rather than the private sector, can direct recovery by choosing winners, favoring specific sectors of the economy with more money. While it cuts taxes for small business, it raises taxes for the wealthy in the same old redistributionist see-saw that has robbed the nation of the wealth accumulation necessary for economic recovery.
The President proceeds like French politicians in the 1930s who when confronted with the Nazi menace and a direct threat to the survival of France chose to invest in a massive government project, erection and maintenance of the Maginot Line, a barrier of concrete and steel that French politicians touted as impenetrable and that cost the French people enormously. The misdirected massive government spending program proved wholly ineffectual, as the Nazis flanked the line and invaded France virtually unobstructed.
Obama’s speech rests on the same kind of arrogant and paternalistic assumptions, that if only the government adopts yet another big spending program, atop the billions already spent without significant result, it will save the nation from ruin. Obama’s plan would provide billions for teachers, contractors who build roads and bridges, and police, and it would extend unemployment benefits. All of that provides temporary aid to those employed by the government or on welfare but nothing to aid the struggling private sector. His proposal would cut social security payroll taxes for small businesses and workers, but it would raise taxes on larger businesses and on higher income earners. It would make modest reforms in Medicare and Social Security, but nothing capable of stemming the massive debts incurred by those programs.
Like the Maginot Line, this fifth iteration of the Obama stimulus programs is misdirected, a predictable failure. The private sector now suffers from the effects of that enormous parasite we call the federal government, which sucks the life’s blood out of its host, spending more than the entire gross domestic product of the country and burdening its host with a massive and ever expanding $14.5 trillion debt. The solution to the problem is not increased government spending and redistributionist tax policy but cutting government down to half of its present size, placing a moratorium on all new government regulation while abolishing all existing regulation unless adopted as law by Congress, and eliminating the personal income tax for all Americans.
In a prior NewsWithViews.com article, I have explained in detail which regulatory agencies and federal departments should be eliminated. I have also explained how the cost savings from eliminating those agencies and departments combined with an end to our involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, from a redirection in defense spending to lessen the costs of defending the nation, and from reform of social security, Medicare, and Medicaid could save $2.78 trillion annually. That savings would permit a budget surplus even with elimination of the personal income tax. Eliminating the personal income tax would enable Americans to retain a total of $1.1 trillion annually, directing the spending of that money as they, not the government, sees fit, ultimately expanding the size of the private economy and, ironically, increasing tax revenues. Those steps would trim to the essentials and humble the federal government while at the same time empowering Americans with the sovereignty the Constitution promises them.
Compared to the enormous reductions in government and across the board tax cuts needed for the nation to lift itself out of the slide toward depression, the President’s modest proposal is yet more political legerdemain, short on substance, long on promises, and wholly incapable of saving the nation from economic ruin.
By offering programs that have zero chance of resurrecting the economy but will add more to the national debt, President Obama looks more and more like certain of his predecessors who failed to lead in times of crisis: like Jimmy Carter who when confronted with double digit inflation and unemployment faulted the American people for experiencing “malaise” or like Gerald Ford who when confronted with rising inflation recommended that Americans wear “WIN” pins (Whip Inflation Now pins) and adopt a cheerful, upbeat view of the market.
It has become incredibly obvious that the nation’s crisis is beyond the ability of this President. His preference would be complete government control of the economy, but he confronts opposition in the House and a degree of squeamishness in his own party having been chastened by the rise of the Tea Party movement which he still misapprehends, failing to appreciate just how powerful a movement the Tea Party is. He therefore moves incrementally in the direction of his preferred bigger government, precisely when the resurrection of the private sector depends on a dramatic movement in the opposite direction.
The disconnect the President experiences between his rhetoric and the reaction of the American people arises because the people increasingly see that the President’s faith is not in them, but in those who would presume to know better than they do how to run their lives, the politicians in Washington. In a rather transparent effort to overcome that disconnect, the President has adopted vacuous rhetoric, presumptuously speaking of himself as if he were a Washington outsider, as if he were just like the typical American.
The public will not be so easily duped. President Obama is the perfect government insider. Having spent his entire career in politics and having advocated and defended the largest expansion of the federal government in America’s history, his name is synonymous with big government. He is therefore no friend of the American who seeks private, sustainable employment and the chance to retain his earnings and direct his own spending.
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Although many pundits of a liberal bend have hailed the speech as a politically astute move, they misapprehend the sophistication of the American public. The factors that have led Americans to conclude that the nation is headed in the wrong direction under President Obama remain unaffected by his jobs proposal. That proposal does not change unemployment levels; adds to, not reduces, the national debt; and fails to provide the American people the extensive relief from overregulation and taxation that they desperately need to chart their own course to economic recovery.
© 2011 Jonathan W. Emord - All Rights Reserved