January 13, 2010 7:50AM

Federal Job Creation

The board game Monopoly first took off during the Great Depression. A different game has become popular during today’s Great Recession. In this game, politicians race against high unemployment to create jobs in order to save their own. The players (politicians) have unlimited tax and borrowing authority, and can call upon friendly economists to help them maneuver. The players even get to keep score, although the media can penalize shoddy scorekeeping. Ultimately, voters will decide which players win and lose in the fall elections.

Okay, I’m being facetious. But as politicians continue to throw trillions of dollars at the economy in a vain effort to create jobs, and the media continues to go along with it by obsessing over meaningless job counts, the entire spectacle has become surreal. If government job creation is a game, the losers have been the taxpayers underwriting it, as well as the employers (and their employees) who are closing shop, laying off workers, or not hiring because of uncertainty over what big government schemes will be next.

Two news articles point to this “regime uncertainty” being generated by Washington.

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December 15, 2009 10:05AM

Tuesday Links

December 3, 2009 12:15PM

Today’s White House ‘Jobs Summit’

Today’s Politico Arena asks:

The WH Jobs Summit: “A little less conversation? A little more action? ( please)”

My response:

Today’s White House “jobs summit” reflects little more, doubtless, than growing administration panic over the political implications of the unemployment picture. With the 2010 election season looming just ahead, and little prospect that unemployment numbers will soon improve, Democrats feel compelled to “do something” — reflecting their general belief that for nearly every problem there’s a government solution. Thus, this summit is heavily stacked with proponents of government action. This morning’s Wall Street Journal tells us, for example, that “AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is proposing a plan that would extend jobless benefits, send billions in relief to the states, open up credit to small businesses, pour more into infrastructure projects, and bring throngs of new workers onto the federal payroll — at a cost of between $400 billion and $500 billion.” If Obama falls for that, we’ll be in this recession far beyond the 2010 elections. The main reason we’re in this mess, after all, is because government — from the Fed’s easy money to the Community Reinvestment Act and the policies of Freddy and Fannie — encouraged what amounted to a giant Ponzi scheme. So what is the administration’s response to this irresponsible behavior? Why, it’s brainchilds like “cash for clunkers,” which cost taxpayers $24,000 for each car sold. Comedians can’t make this stuff up. It takes big‐​government thinkers. Americans will start to find jobs not when government pays them to sweep streets or caulk their own homes but when small businesses get back on their feet. Yet that won’t happen as long as the kinds of taxes and national indebtedness that are inherent in such schemes as ObamaCare hang over our heads. Milton Friedman put it well: “No one spends someone else’s money as carefully as he spends his own.” Yet the very definition of Obamanomics is spending other people’s money. If he’s truly worried about the looming 2010 elections (and beyond), Mr. Obama should look to the editorial page of this morning’s Wall Street Journal, where he’ll read that in both Westchester and Nassau Counties in New York — New York! — Democratic county executives have just been thrown out of office, and the dominant reason is taxes. Two more on the unemployment rolls.

October 2, 2009 5:33PM

Credit Card Act Is Affecting the Job Market

Despite the economic stimulus and various financial bailouts, our economy continues to shed jobs. One of the reasons for continued job losses is the decline in new hires, especially the lack of new hiring by small business.

As bank analyst Meredith Whitney discusses in the Wall Street Journal [$], all the major credit programs created by Congress and the Federal Reserve have been targeted at big corporations and Wall Street firms. However, small companies, especially start‐​ups and partnerships, do not issue bonds in the debt markets, nor do they borrow from Goldman Sachs. So these firms have been left out in the cold, as federal credit inventions have favored corporate America.

Adding insult to injury is that not only has Washington subsidized credit to large firms, it has taken actions that restrict the credit available to small firms and start‐​ups. The prime example of this is the Credit Card Reform Act signed by President Obama in May.

As Whitney reports, “Credit cards are the most common source of liquidity to small businesses, used by 82 percent as a vital portion of their overall funding.” In restricting the usage of credit cards and reducing the ability to risk‐​base price, Washington has eliminated the most important source of credit to small business.

Of course, being unable to project their future health care costs, or tax burdens (yes, they are going up, but by how much), many small businesses have either been forced to or chosen to sit on the sidelines of our economy. Washington needs to recognize that Wall Street and corporate American are not the sum of our economy, if we hope to turn the employment situation around.