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Commentary: At war with an economic solution

by on February 23, 2014 2:00 AM

Whoopee. We’re growing, we’re growing. The annual economic rate during the final quarter of last year was 3.2 percent, way up from the year’s average of 1.9 percent and enough to arouse hope about possibilities down the road.

It just could be we’re headed for what some call “the 4 percent solution,” but, of course, that’s supposing President Obama and his friends let such fabulous growth happen.

If they do, it could mean lots of new businesses, business expansion and jobs, jobs and more jobs. It could mean better living standards, more opportunities for the young, more advances in all kinds of worthwhile undertakings. That’s one reason you hope the president sits down with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and persuades him to do what’s right.

The president himself finally learned to do a few things right on the free-trade front. He had balked at various agreements at one point because unions did not want to import more stuff we also make here, fearing members could be put out of work.

Dislocations do happen, but liberated trade generates enormous benefits for all involved, creating far more wealth and employment than trade clumsily constricted. Wanting to improve on a legacy of the worst economic recovery since World War II, the president proposed moving fast on some negotiated deals and Reid stubbornly said nothing doing. He still bows to union pressure.

With friends like Reid, who needs enemies like tea party Republicans in the House? But then again, Obama can be his own worst enemy, as in doing his darnedest to curb an energy boom that could boost our economy like little we have ever seen. His administration has been playing footsie with environmentalists opposed to drilling on federal lands, and then there’s the nose-thumbing of oil industry hope for the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas.

Despite three years for one study that demonstrated the pipeline’s safety in eight volumes of verifiable facts, Obama said we needed a new study of carbon emissions. We’ve had it, and it says there’s nothing to worry about. What’s next? A study on whether it’s OK to cheat Americans out of prosperity when enviro-activists have quarrels with science?

On another matter, Obama did do the economy a temporary favor by his trick of rewriting laws without congressional approval under the pretense of practical reasons. He thereby further postponed Obamacare’s scheme to make all kinds of new demands on businesses that would simultaneously be new forms of torture for the economy. Thank you, replied briefly saved business owners, steeling themselves for what will come in 2016, and “what a guy” said fellow Democrats, understanding that this latest rescheduling is meant to help them that much more in this year’s midterm elections.

The eventual hurt is nevertheless as sure as Obamacare is a disaster. The health act lavishly does some good that could have been accomplished prudently and meanwhile afflicts us with numerous economic pains. One that lately became well-known was that taxpayer-provided Obamacare goodies for some would be a heeded incentive to quit work.

The prediction is that the labor force will get smaller, making our productivity, growth and wealth smaller even though House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi then informed us that job-shirking is a wonderful way to pursue happiness. In other words, some should commute, sweat and pay taxes so others can find their way to the hammock.

There are all kinds of other means by which a confused administration can help stave off the 4 percent solution, such as more regulatory stupidities, immigration reforms that fail to give additional preference to needed skills, taxation that makes us less competitive, refusal to restructure entitlements and prompting family breakdown with poorly devised welfare programs.

We the people must hang in there despite all of that, but at some point we need to elect more officials who actually aid the public cause.

Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for McClatchy-Tribune. Readers may email him at
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