Republicans want us to think that greater profits for the rich will lead to more jobs and a better standard of living for anyone willing to work. Like most good lies, the hype about low taxes and deregulation is based in some truth.
A small business owner, like the owner of my local feed store, might hire more help if he had more money available. The feed store owner has a couple of people working for him but often works the register or loads and unloads stock in his warehouse. The store doesn’t need any new employees, but if the owner hired someone new he could avoid the grunt work and get home a little earlier. It wouldn’t be a good business decision, but it might be a good personal decision.
Now consider Walmart. If the lines were shorter the customers would be in better moods and the work would be more pleasant for the cashiers. I’m usually in a pretty bad mood by the time I get to the register. But in a large corporation, the people at the top don’t feel the pain of the workers on the floor. Walmart isn’t going to hire more cashiers until the cost of doing so would be outweighed by the increase in customer purchases. It doesn’t matter how angry the customers are as long as they continue to stand in line, and it doesn’t matter how much money Walmart has in the vault. Walmart already enough money to hire more people.
In fact, more money in the vaults of big business is just as likely to result in fewer jobs. At my local McDonald’s, the owner recently purchased new cash registers. They are easier to operate, require less training, and make it easier for the manager to fire workers if he sees fit. A big business owner that suddenly finds extra money available is more likely to invest in automation or overseas facilities than extra labor. A while ago, McDonald’s corporation was testing the idea of long-distance drive-through operators. The person talking to you through that little speaker might be far far away. This would allow fewer people to handle more orders, or allow your order to be taken by lower paid workers in third-world countries. But this kind of change requires investment in research and capital. This is what McDonald’s spends all that extra profit on. Not on American jobs.
There is something that would encourage big and small business to create more jobs: More customer spending. Walmart will hire more workers when the the shelves empty out too fast or the checkout lines get so long that people choose to leave without buying anything. The feed store owner will also hire more help when he has more customers than he can handle.
So, the formula for creating jobs is: Tax breaks for small businesses more customers with more money to spend. That is the Obama jobs plan. Republicans are against this plan because it means higher taxes for billionaires and higher taxes for the kinds of corporations that use capital spending to replace workers with technology or replace Americans with low-paid workers in third-world countries.
Republicans have done a good job convincing Americans that Obama’s fiscal policy has failed us. Indeed, we’re still suffering from the economic malaise that began during the last years of the Bush administration. But Obama’s policies stopped the hemorrhaging of U.S. jobs and held the U.S. economy steady as turmoil overtook the rest of the world. Imagine a doctor gives you medicine which makes you sicker, then you go to a different doctor who gives you different medicine. You immediately stop getting sicker but don’t recover at the rate you were hoping for. Do you go back to the original medicine? Republicans suggest that the appropriate response to disappointment with rate of our nation’s recovery is to return to the kind of deregulation and tax-cuts for the wealthy that caused the economic down-turn.
One of the biggest Republican complaints is that the high corporate tax rate in the US is holding down the economy. But the the OECD has been tracking corporate tax rates around the world, and the data reveals that those countries that have held strongest during the world wide economic downturn, including the U.S.A. and Germany, have higher corporate tax rates than most countries that are in serious trouble, including Iceland, Ireland and Greece. Along with the dismal performance of our economy after the Bush tax cuts (as reported by Slate and several other sources), there is plenty of evidence to suggest that tax cuts for the rich and deregulation for large corporations are not what our economy needs to recover.
Republicans are correct in saying that we can’t keep blaming Bush for the current state of the economy. But that doesn’t mean we should forget that deregulation caused the economic downturn and tax cuts for the wealthy did not help. Job-saving programs and constraints on recklessness have saved jobs and kept the U.S. economy strong despite challenges throughout the world. If there is an argument to be had about president Obama’s policies, it is an argument about whether he gave away too much to his political opponents or achieved the best possible compromises considering his level of support. Either way, the answer is the same. The president needs more support to pass job-creating legislation that is currently being blocked by Republicans.
Don’t be fooled by lies about tax cuts for the rich and deregulation. Support legislation that cuts taxes for small business and creates jobs for Americans. Vote for the those who support honest and sensible economic policy in 2011. Vote for the President and his supporters in 2012.