Or rather, jobs…and the lack thereof.
It’s definitely not good if one of the founders of Home Depot, Ken Lagone, had this to say in the Wall Street Journal:
Although I was glad that you answered a question of mine at the Sept. 20 town-hall meeting you hosted in Washington, D.C., Mr. President, I must say that the event seemed more like a lecture than a dialogue. For more than two years the country has listened to your sharp rhetoric about how American businesses are short-changing workers, fleecing customers, cheating borrowers, and generally "driving the economy into a ditch," to borrow your oft-repeated phrase.
My question to you was why, during a time when investment and dynamism are so critical to our country, was it necessary to vilify the very people who deliver that growth? Instead of offering a straight answer, you informed me that I was part of a "reckless" group that had made "bad decisions" and now required your guidance, if only I’d stop "resisting" it.
I’m sure that kind of argument draws cheers from the partisan faithful. But to my ears it sounded patronizing. Of course, one of the chief conceits of centralized economic planning is that the planners know better than everybody else.
But there’s a much deeper problem than whether I am personally irked or not. Your insistence that your policies are necessary and beneficial to business is utterly at odds with what you and your administration are saying elsewhere. You pick a fight with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, accusing it of using foreign money to influence congressional elections, something the chamber adamantly denies. Your U.S. attorney in New York, Preet Bahrara, compares investment firms to Mexican drug cartels and says he wants the power to wiretap Wall Street when he sees fit. And you drew guffaws of approving laughter with your car-wreck metaphor, recently telling a crowd that those who differ with your approach are "standing up on the road, sipping a Slurpee" while you are "shoving" and "sweating" to fix the broken-down jalopy of state.
That short-sighted wavering—between condescending encouragement one day and hostile disparagement the next—creates uncertainty that, as any investor could tell you, causes economic paralysis. That’s because no one can tell what to expect next.
A little more than 30 years ago, Bernie Marcus, Arthur Blank, Pat Farrah and I got together and founded The Home Depot. Our dream was to create (memo to DNC activists: that’s build, not take or coerce) a new kind of home-improvement center catering to do-it-yourselfers. The concept was to have a wide assortment, a high level of service, and the lowest pricing possible.
We opened the front door in 1979, also a time of severe economic slowdown. Yet today, Home Depot is staffed by more than 325,000 dedicated, well-trained, and highly motivated people offering outstanding service and knowledge to millions of consumers.
If we tried to start Home Depot today, under the kind of onerous regulatory controls that you have advocated, it’s a stone cold certainty that our business would never get off the ground, much less thrive. Rules against providing stock options would have prevented us from incentivizing worthy employees in the start-up phase—never mind the incredibly high cost of regulatory compliance overall and mandatory health insurance.
But the shovel-ready jobs (that weren’t) and the (temporary) census jobs with the multi-billion dollar stimulus legislation were to keep jobs and the economy from tanking. Hah! From Fortune via CNNMoney.com :
It’s this: There is nothing that the U.S. government or the Federal Reserve or tax cutters can do to make our economic pain vanish overnight. There are no all-powerful, all-knowing superheroes or supervillains who can rescue or tank the economy all by themselves.
From listening to what passes for public debate in our country, you’d never know that. You’d think that the federal government could revive the economy quickly if only Congress would let it be more aggressive with stimulus spending. Or that the Fed could fix it if only it weren’t overly worried about touching off inflation. Or that the free market could fix it if only we made deep and permanent tax cuts. Watch enough cable TV, listen to enough talk radio, read enough blogs and columns, and you’d think that they — the bad guys — are forcing the country to suffer needlessly when a simple and painless solution to our problems is at hand.
But if you look at things rationally rather than politically, you’ll see that Washington has far less power over the economy, and far less maneuvering room, than many people think. "It’s endemic in our type of society that we always think there’s a person who holds the magic wand," says Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), a fiscal conservative who isn’t running for reelection, so he can, well, be blunt. "But this society and this economy are far too complex to be susceptible to magic wands."
The economy is financed by jobs & investment, not by taxpayer dollars given out by government after they’ve taken their cut. Standing in the way of the recovery is, dare I say it, the same government that touts the many benefits of its intervention. Look at Health Care and Cap & Trade legislation, which will cost the taxpayers plenty for questionable benefits while handcuffing business investment. And a new tax, the Value Added Tax (VAT), which promises to do more damage. The VAT hosed up Europe, and it promises to do the same here. From Investors.com:
A new study warns that a value-added tax would kill 850,000 jobs in a year and cut retail spending by $2.5 trillion over 10 years. Sounds too bad for Washington to pass up.
An analysis for the National Retail Federation by Ernst & Young finds that adding a VAT to the U.S. tax system would reduce GDP for years, causing the loss of "850,000 jobs in the first year," plus "700,000 fewer jobs 10 years later."
A VAT imposed in such a way would also cause retail spending to drop by almost $260 billion — or 5% — in the first year alone, according to the study. As a result, "most Americans over 21 years of age when the VAT is enacted would be worse off," and there would be "significant redistributional effects across generations, reducing real incomes and employment for current workers."
A VAT isn’t going to raise much if people aren’t working and spending. And what is worse is that the government, via rampant & unchecked spending by Congress and endorsed by the President (yes, all of them, Democrat and Republican) is broke. That, my friends, means we’re broke. From Investors.com:
We will learn in November just how angry the public is about a lot of things, from higher taxes to massive unemployment. But the popular uproar pales in comparison to the sense of humiliation that we Americans are quite broke.
In 2008, the public was furious at George W. Bush, not because he was too much of a right-wing tightwad, but because he ran up a series of what were then thought to be gargantuan deficits.
The result was that under a supposedly conservative administration, and despite six years of an allegedly small-government Republican Congress, the deficit nearly doubled from $3.3 trillion to $6.3 trillion in just eight years.
Barack Obama apparently never figured out that he had been elected in part because that massive Republican borrowing had sickened the American people. So in near-suicidal fashion, he took Bush’s last scheduled budget deficit of more than $500 billion — in a Keynesian attempt to get the country out of the 2008 recession and financial panic — and nearly tripled it by 2010.Obama’s new red ink will add more than $2.5 trillion to the national debt — with near-trillion-dollar yearly deficits scheduled for the next decade. All of that will result in a U.S. debt of more than $20 trillion.
Obama’s new red ink will add more than $2.5 trillion to the national debt — with near-trillion-dollar yearly deficits scheduled for the next decade. All of that will result in a U.S. debt of more than $20 trillion.
What exactly is it about big deficits and our accumulated debt that is starting to enrage voters?
First, the public is tired of the nonchalant way that smarmy public officials take credit for dishing out someone else’s cash without a thought of paying for it. Each week, President Obama promises another interest group more freshly borrowed billions, now euphemistically called "stimulus."
But the more public money he hands out to states, public employees, the unemployed or the green industry, the more voters wonder where in the world he’s getting the cash. The next time a public official puts his name on yet another earmarked federal project, let him at least confess whether it was floated with borrowed money.
Is it any wonder that Americans are angry? Is it any wonder that a movement like the Tea Party is growing day by day? Is it any big surprise that opposition to the unchecked spending is met with calls of derision by those doing the spending? Not to me, at least.
In closing, I think this Michael Ramirez cartoon is spot on as to what is going to happen in November: