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.

Anonymous over 12 years ago

Good article! Cantor is a Koch-head. Talk about feeding an addiction - and most addicts do nothing more than try to justify their addiction.

staff over 12 years ago

"The House Patent Reform Act of 2011 was passed in the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 32-3 on April 14"

Even the leading patent expert in China agrees the bill will help them steal our inventions. Who are these legislators working for?

The bill is improperly named. It should be titled the America Kills Inventors Act.

Just because they call it reform doesnt mean it is. Patent reform is a fraud on America. This bill will not do what they claim it will. What it will do is help large multinational corporations maintain their monopolies by robbing and killing their small entity and startup competitors (so it will do exactly what the large multinationals paid for) and with them the jobs they would have created. According to recent studies by the Kauffman Foundation and economists at the U.S. Census Bureau, startups arent everything when it comes to job growth. Theyre the only thing. This bill is a wholesale slaughter of US jobs. Those wishing to help in the fight to defeat this bill should contact us as below.

Small entities and inventors have been given far too little voice on this bill when one considers that they rely far more heavily on the patent system than do large firms who can control their markets by their size alone. The smaller the firm, the more they rely on patents -especially startups and individual inventors. Yet small entities create the lion's share of new jobs.

Please see http://truereform.piausa.org/ for a different/opposing view on patent reform.


Anonymous over 12 years ago

Mr. Veldman, in his opposition to Congressman Cantors proposal, must be a strong supporter of higher taxes, more regulation and higher trade restrictions. Which is better? Unfortunately, it is much easier for politicians who need to get re-elected to pander to special interests, on both sides of the isle, most often resulting in the higher taxes, higher regulation environment. We must soon realize that elected representatives and their minions can not manage the economy and that we are in jeopardy of losing our liberty if we keep allowing the federal government to legislate solutions to complex economic problems. I for one am in favor of less government, therefore, have a favorable view Congressman Cantors proposal.

Keith Yost over 12 years ago

1) GHG regulations have an economic cost-- removing them would indeed mean a larger economy. Net neutrality regulations are a disincentive to invest in our internet infrastructure. Preventing them would be a boon to our tech sector. Insecticide controls are notoriously overzealous-- banning DDT cost the world millions of lives, in exchange for preventing only a speculative harm to humans.

2) The GOP proposal is not for an across-the-board flat tax of 25. It recommends reducing the top federal income tax rate to 25 so that our tax rates are comparable to our OECD peers.

3) Free trade benefits Americans. If autoworkers hurt, their customers-- and America as a whole-- benefits more. Since when did the government have a duty to protect inefficient industries? And if working conditions in foreign countries is the misguided motivation, then what is all the hullabaloo about an FTA with South Korea?

I can understand critiquing the proposals for being fluffy, but attacking them as bad policy seems off.