Which Candidate Can Save Your Job?

Is U.S. Business Overregulated?

Senators Clinton, McCain and Obama seem to have three types of responses to the current business climate in their Presidential campaigns:

1.      throw money at the economy
2.      bash global business, or
3.      claim economic ignorance.

Here are some examples from early 2008 speeches and interviews:

#1. Clinton wants to renegotiate NAFTA and take other actions to protect U.S. jobs, including spending $2.5 billion a year to retrain workers for new jobs. Bashing global business may win some votes, but this really is populist claptrap and a terrible idea.  America is a part of the world, and ignoring global competition does not change the fact that we compete in the world. To fan the blames, she recently stated that “… we might be drifting into a Japanese-like situation,” meaning a prolonged recession.

#2. McCain has stated that “the issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should.” However, he is an economic conservative and a free trader, and opposes economic intervention in the credit and housing markets as a doomed attempt by the state to interfere in the market economy. McCain’s ignoring current problems is reminiscent of President Hoover’s refusal to allow the federal government to assist starving Americans after the 1929 stock market crash.

#3. Obama wants to spend $210 billion to create jobs in construction and environmental industries over the next 10 years. The money would come from ending the war in Iraq, cutting tax breaks for corporations, increasing taxes on high income earners and taxing carbon pollution. The problems with this proposal are that there is no automatic peace dividend, that Obama has never explained how we’d exit Iraq, that we now have the second highest corporate tax rate in the world, and that, as a country, we’re nearly $10 trillion in debt. Oh by the way, he denounces NAFTA.

What does the rest of the world see? Just look at the plunge of the U.S. dollar vs. every other important currency over the past eight years or so. So what should we do? In the U.S., we’ve underregulated the financial markets and overregulated the industrial markets. We need to create consolidated regulation for the financial services industry so that the newer participants do not fall through the cracks, and that financial firms that get into commercial banking are subject to the same standards as the banks (think Bear Stearns). We need to eliminate regulation that strangles U.S. business, like antitrust, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (corporate governance), and archaic laws that stifle specific industries (such as airlines and communications).

Which candidate may get us there? We need restraint on spending, fewer restrictive economic laws, and an end to the bashing of global business. So far, none of the three candidates come close to meeting these requirements.

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