8/18/2010 - Grow Jobs and Shrink Government

This op-ed was originally published by Boston.com on 8/18/2010.

Grow Jobs and Shrink Government
By Mitt Romney

IT’S NOT happening the way President Obama had planned. Unemployment blew past his 8 percent ceiling and hasn’t looked back. Private sector investment in new jobs and capital has languished. Even the head of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, Christina Romer, has resigned.

Almost every action the president has taken has deepened and lengthened the downturn. The private sector has retreated, frightened by his agenda and paralyzed by the uncertainty, lack of predictability, and outright hostility he has engendered.

His policies are anti-investment, anti-jobs, and anti-growth. Raising taxes — with a 15 percent hike on certain small business corporations, new taxes to pay for ObamaCare, and an increase on the dividend tax from 15 percent to nearly 40 percent — depresses new investment throughout the economy. Promoting an open-ended cap-and-trade tax dissuades expansion by employers in the energy sector. Bowing to the demands of unions to tilt the table in their favor — with proposals for card check and mandatory arbitration as well as the installation of a labor stooge at the National Labor Relations Board — chills new hiring.

Hostility toward foreign trade — by delaying agreements with Colombia and South Korea and by threatening punitive taxes on US businesses that compete abroad — stalls opportunities for new jobs at home. The so-called stimulus that focused on government spending and bailing out states and unions has boosted GDP only modestly and temporarily; the latest stimulus reincarnation will likely do no better. All the while, the president’s failure to address the looming deficits, national debt, unfunded entitlement liabilities, ballooning Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae liabilities, and incalculable government pension obligations causes employers and investors to ask whether the dollar will be worth very much in the future, and thus, they hold back. The policies of the president and congressional Democrats are job killers.

Thanks to the innovative, can-do spirit of the American people, the economy will recover, even with the burdens the president has put upon it. But to speed the recovery and to ensure its long-term ascent, it is time to adopt a bipartisan growth and jobs agenda. Republicans made mistakes when we were in charge, yes, but Democrats pointing that out doesn’t absolve them for the mistakes they are making today. Job and income growth can only come from a growing, successful private sector. Of course, government can create innumerable public sector jobs, but in doing so, it supplants the private sector and ultimately depresses the prosperity of its citizens.

A pro-job, pro-prosperity government works to create the conditions that enable businesses of all sizes to grow and thrive. These should include aligning corporate taxes with those of other developed economies, eliminating special corporate tax breaks that lobbyists have inserted over the years, and preserving the Bush tax cuts — especially for small business.

To give an immediate boost to jobs and investment, permit businesses to write off in 2010 and 2011 the capital investments made in those years rather than over time. Aggressively negotiate and sign trade agreements with other nations to promote American exports. Adopt an energy policy that will actually eliminate our dependence on OPEC and hostile states. Preserve our balanced labor-management rules and regulators. Rather than raising the tax on investment dividends, eliminate it and the tax on capital gains and interest for all households earning less than $250,000 a year.

Reshape government programs to ultimately put spending in balance with revenues. Restructure entitlements to make them fiscally sustainable, honoring our commitments to seniors. Rather than opening the door to ever-increasing demands from states for bail-outs, take action to enable the states to solve their unfunded pension obligations. And tame the growth of government by limiting the political power of public employee unions.

The president said last week that Republicans have no economic ideas other than lowering taxes on the wealthy. This brief agenda is not the only refutation: Republicans in Washington and in states like New Jersey and Texas are promoting and implementing economic policies that do what the president has not: grow jobs and shrink government. It’s time for a growth and jobs agenda to replace the special interest political agendas that we have endured over the past decades. So much is at stake — a strong economy provides for the strong defense which preserves our liberty and promotes peace.

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