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The Show Must Go On

Nov 18, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 10 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
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There are few better examples of the fecklessness of the Obama presidency than the sight of the huckster-in-chief speaking at a conference to sell foreign companies on the advantages of investing in the United States, which is what he stooped to on October 31 at the SelectUSA Investment Summit.



There are two possible reasons for him to have done this: The first is that he really thinks that he can give a speech and spur foreign direct investment. That perspective is, of course, asinine, and would be the Washington equivalent of a Pacific island cargo cult. It’s not like a presidential address is a magical incantation. And it’s not like the United States is some hidden gem that investors are unaware of. The reason for foreign entities to be here is that we are one of the most prosperous countries on the planet. The downside is that we have a tax code not all that favorable to foreign companies, not to mention a regulatory regime that can make the costs of operating here much greater than in almost any other part of the world. Nothing the president can say will change that calculus at all, and he has not yet evinced any enthusiasm for actually trying to fix either problem. 

So if he isn’t incredibly naïve, then the speech represents nothing but cynical, warmed-over stagecraft. Rather than engage with a Congress that’s struggling to put together a tax reform package that really could increase foreign investment, he shows up at some banal event set up by the Commerce Department to announce America’s “open for business,” a message meant for no one but a few voters half-paying attention.

Being president involves more than giving speeches, but the current tenant of the Oval Office would apparently rather go through the motions than enlist the power of his office to lower the true barriers to attracting more foreign investment. Pity.

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