The job crisis: Solved in 10 pages?
GOP’s Plan for America’s Job Creators is empty of any real solutions
House Republicans, led by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), recently released their Plan for America’s Job Creators. The document, as well as a shortened summary version, can be accessed from http://majorityleader.gov. When I first opened the full document, I thought I had chosen the summary by mistake. As Paul Krugman notes, it “has to rely on extra-large type and lots of pointless pictures to bulk it out even to 10 pages.” Indeed, the equivalent of four pages of the document consists of images of cars at the gas station, scissors cutting red tape, and the like. Another page is a platitude-ridden introduction that could be substituted by manic repetition of the phrases “common-sense,” “pro-growth,” “job creators,” and “remove Washington” to the same effect.
But what of the other five pages? Surely there is some substance in there! Let us explore the House Republican eight-pronged approach to job creation.
First we must deal with the problem of “burdensome regulations.” (I only use quotes because “burden” is mentioned no less than five times in half a page.) House Republicans offer the sensible first step of passing “legislation that requires a congressional review and approval of any proposed federal government regulation that will have a significant impact on the economy.” If you are as impressed as I initially was, take note of which regulations House Republicans have singled out for the chopping block: EPA-mandated limits on greenhouse gas emissions, the FCC’s net neutrality proposal, and restrictions on pesticide use. Of course.
Next on the agenda is the quixotic yet admirable task of fixing the tax code once and for all. Their proposal is a flat federal tax rate of 25 percent for businesses and individuals. If this proposal sounds ridiculous to anyone with concern for the poor and the working class, be comforted by the fact that Republicans only want to “ensure that everyone pays their fair share.” Never mind the fact that such a change would actually raise the effective income tax rate for the vast majority of Americans. As a benchmark for comparison, a married couple filing jointly with a taxable income of $282,000 currently pays about 25 percent income tax. House Republicans’ goal to cut taxes solely for the wealthiest Americans is abundantly clear.
The third proposal — to pass free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea — has apparently been blocked by Democrats’ posturing for three years. Well, one politician’s posturing is another politician’s attention to human rights abuses in Colombia or the well-being of auto workers in America.
The fourth step is fostering entrepreneurship by reforming the U.S. patent system. This proposal has received broad bipartisan support and collaboration. The House Patent Reform Act of 2011 was passed in the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 32-3 on April 14. In short, it is not a solely Republican solution as the document declares.
The next two opportunities for improvement are visa reform and the reauthorization of the FDA user fee programs, through which the FDA collects money from companies seeking drug or medical device approval in order to test said products. I don’t have much to say about these proposals, mostly because they are hardly even proposals. House Republicans do not make plain exactly what they plan to do, but they do make it apparent that they will be Creating American Jobs. Indeed, I’m not sure what the purpose is of the page allotted to these two topics. I wonder whether Eric Cantor and his ilk are hoping that if they repeat the phrases “job creation,” “job creators,” “create American jobs,” etc. — which they did 31 times in the 86-sentence document — they will ingrain in the reader a subconscious association between Republicans and job creation.
Now, what do House Republicans have to say about energy? They first make it clear that the problem is rising energy costs and point out that, since President Obama took office, the price of a gallon of gas has doubled. This is a facile and erroneous observation and an obvious attempt to falsely pin blame to Obama. Gas prices fell dramatically after the record-setting summer of 2008 because of the global economic meltdown. The fact that they started to rise afterward has nothing to do with the president. To suggest that we should prefer an economy in shambles over $4-per-gallon gasoline is ridiculous. What’s more, the primary method that Republicans have suggested to lower gas prices is “Drill, baby, drill.” They don’t seem to realize that feeding an addiction is nothing more than a short-term solution.
And House Republicans don’t stop there. They go on to fault Obama and congressional Democrats for our largest-ever budget deficits. As ignorant of history as ever, they overlook the budget surpluses of a decade ago and the catastrophic effects of the global financial collapse.
With the way they continue to insult the American people with these so-called “solutions,” it’s obvious House Republicans do not take us seriously, and we have every reason to respond in kind.