Then there’s the president’s on-again, off-again offshore-drilling policy. And what about employers who may face stacked union elections if the Department of Labor opts to circumvent Congress and implement card check (the number one item on Big Labor’s wish list) administratively?
This layered uncertainty looms as a Sword of Damocles over every business, every investor, and every head of household in America. It has suffocated the risk-taking, entrepreneurial spirit that has made America the exceptional nation in human history. For entrepreneurship hinges on intelligent risk-taking, not closing your eyes and plunging headfirst off the foggy cliff of government intervention and manipulation.
Our current and ongoing economic malaise arises from something we have not seen in America since the days of FDR’s failed New Deal. Our entrepreneurs — society’s economic risk-takers — have lost confidence — $2 trillion worth of confidence — in the federal government’s willingness to let them operate in a way that makes economic sense.
This is why the recent tax deal ultimately does nothing to improve our long-term economic outlook. True, the compromise was better than one potential option: a catastrophic increase in the tax burden that would have destroyed jobs, businesses, and lives. But the goals of this legislative exercise should have been more ambitious: One, create breathing room for entrepreneurs, families, and investors in the form of a reasonable tax and regulatory burden; and two, guarantee that Congress will remain faithful to these policies for the long haul. This would give our most productive citizens the confidence that if they make an investment that requires a long time horizon, they can count on a stable policy environment.
This would mean, among other things, a permanent extension of the Bush-era tax rates for everyone, putting an end to the most egregious regulatory initiatives now underway, consigning Obamacare to the dustbin of history, and allowing energy companies to identify, recover, and generate as much domestic energy as possible.
Our wealth creators will reengage with our free-enterprise system only when these good policies are in place and stable. And we will know we have succeeded only when investors and businesses move that sidelined $2 trillion into new plants, equipment, and jobs.
— Michael G. Franc is vice president of government relations for the Heritage Foundation.