I’ve got a friend whom I’m in the process of “flipping”—I hope!—to free-market values. This evening, he asked if I could catalog the ways that the President has turned the Housing Crash of 2008 into the Lost Half Decade [at least] that we appear to be facing now.
I realized then that I don’t keep a running list, but for those of you who live in purple states this may be a fruitful exercise. We need to be ready to defend our points of view in a really clear way, and even be pleasant about it on occasion.
I realize that we like to bitch among ourselves on most of these threads and on the discussion board, but . . . most of us are likely to encounter a handful of True Independent Voters over the next 15 months—and there will be many more than that for those of us who like to go to swing states and campaign before a big election—so it might be time to start expressing some of these concepts in persuasive, semi-detached language that, ahem, doesn’t judge (at least out loud) those who
were taken in by voted for the President in 2008. So I’m going to try to do that, and even follow my “no cussin’ on the home page” rule.
What is, in your mind, the most destructive thing that this President has done with respect to the economy in general, and job-creation in particular? For each action, what would have been the correct course? Let me know.
I’m personally of the opinion that most Presidents can’t fix a bad economy; they can only make things worse. And I’m convinced that at nearly every turn, this President has done so over the past two and a half years.
Here is how I started the ball rolling with my friend. I’m afraid it’s my best attempt at passionless language. It is not a particularly good one.
1) The President has created a pervasive climate of regulatory uncertainty that has led to the phenomenon of businesses “not knowing which way to turn.” When businesses don’t know what to invest in, they keep their money to themselves. He should have signalled that he’d try to be fair to entrepreneurs and corporations.
2) He has engaged in the language of class warfare, which has contributed to the difficulties above, appearing to “signal” that he would try to punish any success that occurred on his watch. He should have assured businesspeople that he would give them a fair shake, and then done so.
3) The President’s “Affordable Care Act” has drastically exacerbated the element of regime uncertainty, and a huge bureaucratic system like that, scheduled to be phased in over a process of some years, cannot help but increase regulatory uncertainty, with companies not sure how it will affect them once fully implemented, but afraid to hire until they know what the new landscape will look like. He should have abandoned that effort once it became clear that most Americans did not want it, and concentrated instead on bringing employment numbers up.
4) Mr. Obama may not have reacted very well to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf last summer, but he certainly overreacted when he rescinded his previous decision to open parts of the East Coast to offshore drilling. The proper response to that disaster was to find the problems in the inspections regimens that led to its occurrence, not to punish companies that had nothing to do with that incident by prohibiting exploration off of the East Coast.
He should have tightened enforcement, but allowed this research to proceed (we don’t even really have any accurate idea of what resources might be off the East Coast; the exploration will allow us to find out—and the people doing that will be figuring it out on the energy companies’ dime, earning good money while ferreting out information that the country needs to know). He should have stayed the course.
5) The President should not have started the moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico, and once a judge told him to knock it off, he should have complied. As I’ve said before, the region was hit by Katrina, and then the oil spill, and now is subject to this “hurry up and wait” slow-death of a permit process that it cannot afford.
I don’t know how many economic body blows the Gulf states are expected to absorb, but that is the last part of the country that he should be punching in the gut this way. Offshore drilling is an established industry there, and the Gulf economy is dependent on it. The Gulf “permitorium” is a shameful chapter in this Presidency, and it is still going on.
6) It was a mistake to allow the unions such a huge role in the reorganization of GM, and to cheat the
shareholders bond holders out of their earnings. That contributed to the air of uncertainty, and in addition it gave people pause about the rule of law: if bankruptcies will be structured so as to change where people stood in line legally, how does anyone else know when the government might step in again and change the rules in the middle of the game? Mr. Obama should have followed bankruptcy law and precedent in the GM restructuring.
7) The EPA is greatly expanding its reach in multiple ways right now that are scaring multiple industries. Once more, this increases uncertainty, and makes businesses of all size unclear about whether compliance with environmental regulations will even be posssible in the future. The President should be humane in dealing with industry, particularly if he wants it to look like he would like to see more Americans in actual jobs; he should call off the dogs at the EPA.
UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers! I hope you’ll take a look around here before you depart. The Conservatory is less than two months old, but we like to think we’re Going Places.
Check out our main page, if you’re in the mood, and then bookmark it!
Also, we’ve got Dan Collins’s capable fisking of Tim Geithner, Peter Da TechGuy’s morale builder for depressed Tea Partiers, David Zincavage (of Never Yet Melted) on why the left didn’t see the Obama failures coming, the EPA’s latest way to kill jobs, and Bruce McQuain (of Q&O) discussing how bizarrely disconnected the President is from Americans’ plight right now.