Regulation, taxes still not to blame

Updated
 
Regulation, taxes still not to blame
Regulation, taxes still not to blame

President Obama today began a new push for action on his very popular jobs bill, which Senate Republicans voted down and which House Republicans say they won’t vote on.

“In the coming days we will force members of Congress to vote on the individual proposals in the American Jobs Act,” President Obama says. “They’ll have a chance to vote on whether they believe we should keep teachers out of work or whether we should put them back in the classroom where they belong. They’ll get to vote on whether they believe construction workers should stay unemployed while our roads and bridges fall apart, or whether we should put these men and women back to work rebuilding America. They’ll be forced to decide whether we should cut taxes for middle class Americans or let them go up next year.”

Republicans have their own message about jobs, an apparently counterfactual proposition that what’s wrong with the economy overall is that government regulation won’t let businesses grow. On AmericanJobCreators.com – actually Jobs.MajorityLeader.gov – they’re soliciting testimonials from “job creators” about how regulations are hurting them.

Early on, we meet Eric Treiber, CEO of his family’s Chicago White Metal Die Casting. “OSHA regulations, EPA regulations, Department of Labor, NLRB, those are some examples, health care reform, of course – examples of additional cost pressures that are mounting on us which are making it very difficult to stay in business,” he tells us.

It’s an effective ad, right down to the mention of him as a “3rd generation Illinois job creator.” Mr. Treiber says he doesn’t line up with either party; I think it’s worth taking him at his word on that and on his experience with paperwork. Surely businesses would benefit from streamlining their dealings with government. On the other hand, businesses just as surely benefit from what government does – whether it’s roads or education or law enforcement, as Elizabeth Warren so radically noted.

In a story like Eric Treiber’s, Republicans push a single narrative into a conservative, anti-regulatory take on the larger economy. Despite Mr. Treiber’s individual experience, what businesses as a group are saying is that the problem now is not regulation. It’s not even taxes. It’s demand. People aren’t buying, so business can’t grow. That’s why economists like Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke have called for government to step in and help.

Chart below from the Economic Policy Institute.

Regulation, taxes still not to blame

Updated