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Let's See What the U.S. Economy Can Really Do

Investor's Business Daily
July 22, 2009
By Ernest S. Christian and Gary A. Robbins

Like so much else in Washington - past and present - Barack Obama's ever-expanding economic stimulus initiatives are for the most part a gigantic hoax. Hundreds of millions of people will suffer as a result.

Taking money out of the economy at great cost to everyone, running it through the Treasury coffers, and shoveling what's left back out the door to a select group of favorites is prima facie dumb - if the goal is to help a damaged economy to recover.

Paying off cronies and debts to constituencies is great politics. Calling it "stimulus" is a handy subterfuge. But no matter what one calls it, robbing Peter to pay Paul is not a formula for economic growth. It's a disguised Ponzi scheme, similar to what Bernard Madoff went to jail for doing, and exactly what Barack Obama's long list of political progenitors have been doing to the American people for many decades.

If the Obama administration and the Pelosi-Reid-Franken Congress actually wanted to give the economy an immediate and powerful boost, they could do so by loosening - even if only for a little while - some of the most severely painful restraints that they and their predecessors have placed on the private economy's ability to make people better off.

Without endangering anything other than the lucrative careers of some environmental lawyers, America's coal and oil resources could be developed, electric power plants and refineries could be built, transportation infrastructure projects could be undertaken, and the nation's decaying electric power grid could be rehabilitated, expanded and made both "smart" and secure for the new information age.

Vital growth-oriented improvements all across the economy have been stalled for years by environmental guerillas who use procedural tricks to delay (and in many instances, kill) good projects that are - if ever allowed to get to the decision stage - permissible even under presently restrictive environmental laws.
If a few of the most absurd restrictions were loosened and the harassment delays were eliminated, private enterprise could proceed immediately with projects that are ready and waiting. Numerous new construction jobs at good wages would be created right away. Longer term, a renewed and rebuilt infrastructure would produce more permanent good-paying jobs and higher incomes in a rejuvenated economy.

An announcement from President Obama that he intends to release the economy - even if only temporarily - from environmental and regulatory bondage would have an immediate and powerful effect. The stock market would go up, the dollar would strengthen and consumer confidence would start to be restored. People would look forward to better jobs, more abundant and cheaper energy and new entrepreneurial opportunities.

And just imagine the euphoria if President Obama also announced an intention to cut taxes, instead of increasing them, and an intention to curb, instead of enhancing, the destructive powers of union bosses. They must be stopped before they do to the rest of the work force and economy what they so successfully did to the ruined American automobile industry. A decision to scuttle card-check and mandatory arbitration would all by itself be a great help.

If Washington made and kept these promises, the economy would take off like a rocket. America definitely would be back in business. The recession would soon be over. The future would be bright and secure for everyone - except Washington. With America back in business, Big Government and its cronies would be out of business.

If the government ever took its foot off the brake and let the American people see what they and their economy can do, Washington would find it very difficult to clamp down on economic growth again.
Unless the American people catch on to the scam and make some radical remedial changes - starting next year with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. - none of the good things that Washington could do to aid economic recovery are going to happen.

Government seems bent on forcing Americans back on the borrow-spend-borrow merry-go-round, where everybody spends tons of Monopoly money to buy more than they produce and earn.

Obama and company are plundering America's future by putting us irretrievably in debt, and tightening their control over the "means of production" and a widening range of personal behavior.

The federal government is by definition a dangerous instrument, and its standards of integrity and competence have never been high. But even by those comparisons, there is something particularly scary about what is presently going on in Washington. It needs to stop.

Christian, an attorney, was a deputy assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Ford administration. Robbins, an economist, served at the Treasury Department in the Reagan administration.

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