Liberate the Jobs!
John Berlau, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, and others on Boehner’s jobs speech.


Boehner also expressed his intention to tackle regulatory reform. For instance, he urged the White House to halt the implementation of regulatory actions in the works by the federal bureaucracy; to pass the REINS Act, which would require congressional review for any new regulation that has a major impact on economy; and to repeal the “3 percent withholding rule,” which serves as an effective tax increase on those who do business with the government.

Interestingly, the Speaker has a weird infatuation for American-made energy. That sounds like protectionism to me, though it may just be politics, and it can certainly open the door to government policies directed at picking winners and losers. As Washington is awakening to the scope of the Solyndra scandal, we must be wary of any such proposals. 

Finally, in light of the last ten years, I hope you will allow me a serious dose of skepticism. It’s not that the whole thing (with the exception of the protectionist part) doesn’t sound good to me; it’s just that we must apply the same call for results and action, once more, to the promises of a politician.

— Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

The gist of Speaker Boehner’s speech before the Economic Club of Washington, D.C., was standard fare: The federal government spends, taxes, and regulates too much. He’ll get no argument here. Boehner is correct that the private sector has been “slammed by uncertainty from the constant threat of new taxes, out-of-control spending, and unnecessary regulation from a government that is always micromanaging, meddling, and manipulating.”

Can Boehner and his fellow Republicans in the House do anything about it? Not much, with Harry Reid leading the Senate and Barack Obama in the White House. As the debate over raising the debt ceiling demonstrated, neither side is willing to compromise on core policy positions with November 2012 on the horizon. That leads to a bigger question: What would Boehner & co. do to rein in our “micromanaging, meddling, and manipulating” federal government if Republicans got control of the Senate and the White House?

The excesses of the Obama administration would hopefully be rolled back. Beyond that, it’s hard to get too excited — given that Republican rule of both branches in the 2000s resulted in a major increase in the size of government. Indeed, Boehner said that he considers the abominable No Child Left Behind Act to be his “proudest achievement.” Therefore, more specifics from the speaker on what government programs and interventions he’d like to eliminate would be welcome.

— Tad DeHaven is a budget analyst on federal and state budget issues for the Cato Institute.

Boehner has it mostly right. House Republicans should scrap President Obama’s failed jobs plan, including the “temporary” payroll tax cuts, which are designed to permanently replace the payroll taxes that finance Social Security with general revenue taxes on capital and the most productive. Instead, Republicans should act now to pass what will work.

That means that Boehner and congressional Republicans should not get drawn into meaningless, counterproductive negotiations with President Obama, who is clueless about real economics and completely focused on political posturing.

Boehner is right that the first priority is individual- and corporate-tax reform. The tax reforms in the Ryan budget are close to the reforms proposed by Simpson-Bowles. The House should start action now to pass some compromise between the two. There are even enough Senate Democrats who support those Simpson-Bowles reforms to get such a compromise through the Senate.


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