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CHRIS EDWARDS
I don’t like a single part of President Obama’s “American Jobs Act.”

— A temporary payroll tax cut is not a tax cut at all if the president “pays for it” with tax hikes later on. And if it’s temporary, it won’t encourage businesses to hire additional workers anyway.

● We don’t need more federal spending on infrastructure. Instead, we need higher-quality infrastructure spending financed and built by the private sector. We need private airports, private air-traffic control, private toll highways. When the federal government spends on infrastructure, it often misallocates the funds. The list of federal infrastructure boondoggles and cost overruns is endless — in public housing, dam-building, Corps of Engineers projects, bridges to nowhere, high-speed rail, etc.

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● An “infrastructure bank” would reduce transparency in federal spending, which would go directly against a key Obama promise of increased budget transparency.

● Since the 1960s, federal jobs-training programs simply haven’t worked.

● New business hiring tax credits won’t work, and, by making the tax code more complicated, such credits would encourage more tax cheating. They would be the exact sort of tax loophole that Obama claims to hate.

● “Government and business working side-by-side” sounds like crony capitalism to me.

● Extending unemployment insurance for another year will help keep the unemployment rate high.

My advice is to scrap all this big-government micromanagement and pursue a large and clean corporate-tax-rate cut. Obama did talk vaguely about corporate-tax reform tonight, but I’ll believe that when I see the details.
 
Chris Edwards is editor of the Cato Institute’s www.DownsizingGovernment.org.


SAMUEL GREGG
Tonight’s speech was more of the same. President Obama’s hectoring lecture reflected the usual fare of Keynesianism mixed with mild nods to the private sector that we’re come to expect. It also embodied an abiding faith in government that would be touching if it weren’t so detached from economic reality. Granted, Paul Krugman will surely bewail that the president didn’t go far enough with this third stimulus plan. But that’s what it is.

There was much talk about fixing infrastructure. Public works is something even Adam Smith thought the state should do. But haven’t we been here before? Didn’t we hear something about “shovel-ready” jobs a while ago? Why should this time be different?

Likewise, on the president’s reference to mortgage relief: When will he understand that policies that slow down the market-clearing process merely prolong the pain?

Naturally, there was the now-monotonous call to increase taxes on those who, well, already pay most of the taxes. These are the same individuals and businesses whose capital fuels the creation of jobs — not the personifications of America’s economic problems who were sitting with the first lady: GE’s Jeff Immelt, the face of American corporate welfare, and the AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka, the symbol of union obstructionism.

Over and over again, the president insisted: “You should pass this jobs plan — right away.” I thought the legislature’s job was to carefully assess legislation, not just roll over because the boss wants something. Such rhetoric — and the speech’s substance — suggests the president has never really left the mental horizons of Chicago politics. America is the poorer for it.

Samuel Gregg is research director at the Acton Institute. He has authored several books including On Ordered Liberty, his prize-winning The Commercial SocietyWilhelm Röpke’s Political Economy, and his 2012 forthcoming Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and America’s Future



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