Streamlining our patent process? Yes, that was one of the remedies President Obama offered Friday in response to news the unemployment reached 9.2 percent in June and job growth was pitiful.
It raises once again this question: Does the president have any idea how a free market economy is supposed to work or how to fix it when it’s ailing? The answer, based on Obama’s remarks in recent months, is no and no.
The president said Americans “expect us to act on every single good idea that’s out there.” But he hasn’t acted on any of the ideas that might give the economy more breathing room and less intervention by Washington. But these ideas continue to pile up at his doorstep.
For instance, how about rolling back the wave of regulations his administration has imposed on the economy and job creators? Nope, that idea’s not on his radar. How about delaying the implementation of his health care program that terrifies so many small businessmen? Sorry, that’s off the table. How about serious cuts in spending in areas other than defense? The very idea makes Obama nervous, even as he tries to negotiate an agreement on raising the debt limit. How about having government gobble up a smaller share of GDP, thus leaving the private sector more to work with. Forget it.
If you follow the president’s speeches, especially the many he has delivered at Democratic fundraisers in recent months, you’ll notice he specializes in listing not programs he wants to cut, but all the programs that he has no intention of cutting. Defense might take a whack, but that’s about it.
Reduce taxes – the individual income tax rate, say – to provide incentives for private investment to create economic growth and jobs? That worked for President Reagan in 1981-1982 when the economy rocketed its way out of a recession nearly as deep and scary as the one Obama encountered when he took office in January 2009. But this president seems allergic to Reaganomics.
He thinks we have, as he put it during his Twitter Town Hall on Wednesday, “the lowest tax rates since the 1950s.” Where he picked up that false notion is anybody’s guess. The top rate on income is 35 percent today, though Obama would like to raise to 45 percent. Under Reagan, that rate fell to 28 percent.
The president prefers government programs as his one and only tool for boosting the economy. This is a triumph of hope over the experience of his two-and-one-half years in the White House. He’s tried a stimulus package, green jobs, funds for infrastructure, bailouts of banks and Detroit automakers – and we’re left with a stagnant economy and rising joblessness. Obama’s response: let’s do more of the same.
Detroit is now a favorite Obama talking point. “I didn’t expect to be the CEO of a car company when I ran for office,” he told the crowd at a fundraiser in Philadelphia last week, “but as a consequence of what we did, we saved jobs. We saved American manufacturing.” Not quite.
The president also believes collective bargaining by unions is an economic boon. “Collective bargaining is the reason why the vast majority of Americans enjoy a minimum wage, enjoy weekends, enjoy overtime,” he said in answer to a tweeted question. “So many things that we take for granted are because workers came together to bargain with their employers.”
On the role of labor unions, the president needs to get in touch with his former economic adviser, Larry Summers. Instead of generating jobs, Summers found that states with high unionization have higher rates of unemployment than less unionized states.
As we’ve come to expect from Obama, none of the economic troubles are in any way, shape, or form the fault of his policies or himself. On the contrary, there have been “some tough headwinds from natural disasters, to spikes in gas prices, to state and local budget cuts that have cost tens of thousands of cops and firefighters and teachers their jobs,” he said Friday.
That’s not all. “The problems in Greece and Europe, along with uncertainty over whether the debt limit here in the United States will be raised, have also made businesses hesitant to invest more aggressively,” he said.
Might businesses really be hesitant for other reasons, including fear that the more than $2 trillion the president wants to borrow and spend between now and the end of 2012 would lead inevitably to one thing – higher taxes. And there’s the arrival of ObamaCare in 2014. Such matters appear never to have crossed Obama’s mind.
He wants to concentrate on patents. “We can give our entrepreneurs the chance to let their job-creating ideas move to market faster by streamlining our patent process,” Obama said. And 10, maybe 15, perhaps 20 years from today, it will lead to more jobs. But not before then.