Friday, September 2, 2011
Nightmare on Pennsylvania Avenue
Nightmare on Pennsylvania Avenue
By Cal Thomas
In advance of a "major speech" on the economy and jobs, President Obama has selected Princeton University professor Alan Krueger to be chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. Krueger is no relation to the horror film character Freddy Krueger, though if his ideas are implemented, they might further "slash" the economy.
Alan Krueger is the latest in a long line of professors and academics to populate this administration. Few, if any, have held real jobs in the private sector. They are mostly theorists, whose theories are often proved wrong, but in academia, as well as in government, being wrong rarely disqualifies one from a leadership post. Intentions are all that matter.
As an economic theorist, Krueger's record for accuracy is not a good one and doesn't produce confidence that adding him to the Obama team will revive an economy in the doldrums.
Krueger, writing for The New York Times blog in 2009, proposed as an object of discussion, instituting a 5 percent consumption, or value added tax (VAT), on top of the income tax, which he said would "raise approximately $500 billion a year, and fill a considerable hold in the budget outlook." He acknowledged, though, that a consumption tax would "reduce economic activity" and be a "greater burden for the poor, who spend a relatively high share of their income."
How many of those working in the private sector think government deserves more of our money when it has done such a dreadful job of spending what we have already provided it?
In May 2011, Krueger said he wanted to raise taxes on energy producers (meaning an end to tax breaks for "big oil"), but he assured us that "because the U.S. is such a small producer (of oil), eliminating the subsidy would have very little effect in the long run and no effect in the short run on gas prices."
America would have more oil if the administration lifted restrictions on drilling in Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico and other places in our backyard. If Krueger thinks raising the cost of energy production by eliminating tax breaks that encourage more exploration would not lead to higher prices, he's been spending too much time in the faculty lounge.
As if all of these new taxes weren't enough, Krueger has also said he wants to raise taxes on some employers to help fund unemployment benefits. If employers have to pay more to pay for the unemployed, won't they be forced to lay off more workers? It becomes a vicious cycle.
Krueger favors a national cap-and-trade program, which he says would produce green jobs. He has claimed the $825 billion stimulus was growing the economy, which can't be taken seriously given the jump in the unemployment rate from 8.2 percent when the stimulus was passed, to the current 9.1 percent. Previous economic advisers Christina Romer and Jared Bernstein predicted that, after the stimulus, unemployment wouldn't rise above 8 percent.
As The Washington Post fact checker, Glenn Kessler, noted last week, "Unless the economy turns around in the next 18 months, Obama is on track to have the worst jobs record of any president in the modern era."
In May 2001, when President George W. Bush had been in office just three months and unemployment was at 4.5 percent, Krueger told Jim Lehrer on PBS, it was hard to find a "silver lining" in the number since "the loss in total employment was almost a quarter of a million jobs" and that it was "quite a grim report."
Who wouldn't settle for numbers like that today?
The naming of Krueger is another indication that President Obama is not likely to adjust his "spread the wealth around" philosophy in light of the facts. With the words "fanatic" and "extremist" being applied by liberal Democrats to some of the Republican presidential candidates, the Obama administration continues to engage in economic extremism with its fanatical policies that don't have a chance of producing jobs in the private sector, much less win congressional approval.
Freddy Krueger terrorized his victims in their dreams. If Alan Krueger has his way, the dreams of too many Americans will soon become nightmares.
The Tide and Marco Rubio
By Cal Thomas
In my high school days before sex and environmental education and the general dumbing down of the population, memorization of some Shakespeare was expected in Miss Kauffman's 12th-grade English class. A favorite I still recall is this line spoken by Brutus in "Julius Caesar": "There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries..."
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) repeatedly says in various ways it is too soon, or he isn't ready, for higher office, such as vice president. He's been in the Senate for a little more than seven months and has delivered only two major speeches -- his maiden speech on the Senate floor and one last week at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif.
In the Reagan Library speech, Rubio laid out his philosophical foundation, something that must be at the heart of any policy.
Defining the proper role of government ought to be the central issue in the coming presidential campaign. Indeed, it should occupy our thoughts between campaigns because those of us who pay income tax are not getting a good return on our investment.
Here's Rubio: "We have the opportunity -- within our lifetimes -- to actually craft a proper role for government in our nation that will allow us to come closer than any Americans have ever come to our collective vision of a nation where both prosperity and compassion exist side by side."
That takes the "compassionate conservatism" of George W. Bush to a different level. To Rubio, prosperity is not the opposite of compassion. Rather, the two are -- or should be -- joined. Prosperity provides the means by which people can be compassionate to those truly in need, such as the disabled and elderly. It is also the ticket out of dependency for people who can work but have been robbed of their dignity by addiction to a government check. Dignity leads to many other character qualities, which advance the true welfare of an individual, benefiting society. Someone with dignity, self-regard and respect for others is unlikely to take part in a flash mob attack.
Rubio points to a path beyond the familiar "either-or" debate; beyond envy of the wealthy and multiple and ineffective programs to liberate the "poor." This repetitive scenario has produced, said Rubio, "a government that not even the richest and most prosperous nation on the face of the Earth can fund or afford to pay for. An extraordinary tragic accomplishment, if you can call it that."
Rubio went further than what might be expected of a Republican, acknowledging his party is partly responsible for the growth of government: "I know that it is popular in my party to blame the president, the current president. But the truth is the only thing this president has done is accelerate policies that were already in place and were doomed to fail. All he is doing through his policies is making the day of reckoning come faster, but it was coming nonetheless."
And then there is this, which shatters the left's stereotype about the right: "Conservatism is not about leaving people behind. Conservatism is about empowering people to catch up, to give them the tools ... that make it possible for them to access all the hope, all the promise, all the opportunity that America offers. And our programs to help them should reflect that."
If this is not a speech that lays the foundation for a Rubio run for higher office, it is a speech that ought to begin a major transition from costly and ineffective government programs to a renewed empowerment of individuals.
No one, perhaps not even Rubio, can know for certain whether he is "ready" for higher office. President Obama has proven he wasn't ready. Some leaders don't know they can lead until leadership is thrust upon them. The right philosophy is key and the Reagan Library speech proves that Rubio has the most important ingredient of any leader: vision. Read it, be inspired and then consider whether Rubio's tide is rising.
To read another article by Cal Thomas, click here.
Posted by Brett at 12:03 AM