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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It's the uncertainty, stupid

That is the sign I'd put up in every Republican's campaign headquarters this year. The uncertainty that the Obama administration's policies, new regulations, and threatened future taxes and regulations is what is paralyzing the economy. John Stossel lays it out.
The problem today is that the economy is not being left alone. Instead, it is haunted by uncertainty on a hundred fronts. When rules are unintelligible and unpredictable, when new workers are potential threats because of Labor Department regulations, businesses have little confidence to hire. President Obama's vaunted legislative record not only left entrepreneurs with the burden of bigger government, it also makes it impossible for them to accurately estimate the new burden.

In at least three big areas -- health insurance, financial regulation and taxes -- no one can know what will happen.

New intrusive rules for health insurance are yet to be written, and those rules will affect hiring, since most health insurance is provided by employers.

Thanks to the new 2,300 page Dodd-Frank finance regulatory act, The Wall Street Journal reports, there will be "no fewer than 243 new formal rule-makings by 11 different federal agencies." These as-yet unknown rules will govern lending to business and other key financial activity.

The George W. Bush tax cuts might be allowed to expire. But maybe not. Social Security and Medicare are dangerously shaky. Will Congress raise the payroll tax? A "distinguished" deficit commission is meeting. What will it do? Recommend a value-added tax?

Who knows? But few employers will commit to a big investment with those clouds hanging over our heads.

"As much as I might want to hire new salespeople, engineers and marketing staff in an effort to grow, I would be increasing my company's vulnerability to government," Michael Fleischer, president of Bogen Communications Inc., wrote in The Wall Street Journal.

Nothing more effectively freezes business in place than what economist and historian Robert Higgs calls "regime uncertainty."

"(A)ll of these unsettling possibilities and others of substantial significance must give pause to anyone considering a long-term investment, because any one of them has the potential to turn what seems to be a profitable investment into a big loser. In short, investors now face regime uncertainty to an extent that few have experienced in this country -- to find anything comparable, one must go back to the 1930s and 1940s, when the menacing clouds of the New Deal and World War II darkened the economic horizon."

Uncertainty created by Obama's legislative "successes" are comparable to the Depression and World War II? This does not bode well for job growth.

Higgs says: "Unless the government acts soon to resolve the looming uncertainties about the half-dozen greatest threats of policy harm to business, investors will remain for the most part on the sideline ... consuming wealth that might otherwise have been invested."
Perhaps someone with business experience could explain this to the supposed wise men in the Obama administration.

1 comment:

Stuart Hutchings said...

Betsy, while your looking for a person with business expertise to explain things to the administration, please look for someone to explain to John Stossel that poll after poll among business leaders completely disproves this assurance.