Anthony Dalke is the Social Media Director for www.Race42012.com, and is also a regular contributor to Race42012.
Dustin Siggins is formerly a policy and politics blogger for numerous sites, including Race42012, and is co-authoring a book on the “Debt-Paying Generation” with William Beach of The Heritage Foundation.
With President Obama making a major speech about jobs this week, and the House GOP, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman putting forth their own plans in response, it appears employment will finally be on the forefront of the public debate. This year’s often vitriol-filled discussions of the United States’ bleak fiscal future, despite their intensive media coverage, have overlooked a stark reality: millions of Americans still sit out of work. Paul Krugman gets a rare cheer for a recent column in which he hammered Washington for replacing leadership with gamesmanship.
Let’s be clear: the national debt is the greatest issue facing America. However, to achieve long-lasting success, any plan to balance the budget must encourage job growth. A growing economy will do a great deal to shrink the deficit as it increases tax revenues, and it will enable more Americans to provide for themselves, control their own financial destinies and avoid government dependency. This especially matters to the 115 million Americans aged 5-30, who will become the Debt-Paying Generation (DPG) if our national debt continues to skyrocket.
With some ideas already on the table, and others still being hammered into actual plans, here are some proposals our leadership and potential leaders should embrace:
- Eliminate all tax loopholes and simplify the tax structure. Americans spent 6.1 billion hours and over $160 billion (equivalent to about 40 hours and over $1,000 per working American) complying with just the personal and corporate income tax code in 2010. Certainly, under a flat tax or the FairTax, taxpayers could redeploy these resources in productive activities that would expand the economic pie and thus increase tax revenues. Furthermore, such reforms would eliminate or at least shrink the IRS, taking up to a $13 billion dollar bite out of the deficit.
- Eliminate all subsidies from the government to private companies. The energy industries, for example, received direct subsidies of $37.2 billion in 2010, all at the expense of the American taxpayer— and some at the expense of the poor in this and other countries. Total corporate welfare totaled $92 billion in 2009. These and other subsidies only distort markets, essentially taking productive dollars out of the private sector and redistributing them at the whims of politicians and government bureaucrats.
- Utilize all of America’s energy resources without prejudice. Essentially, get the government out of the way and let each form of energy- from nuclear to oil to hydro to ethanol- stand on its own merits. This will create hundreds of thousands of new high-skill, well-paying, long-lasting jobs in the nuclear and oil industries alone. Additionally, allowing equal competition would create a smaller regulatory bureaucracy in Washington, and eliminate many of the above-mentioned subsidies. This would save the taxpayers money and increase tax revenues, creating a two-fold deficit reduction effect.
- Cut regulations with an axe. The size of the Federal Register, the official record of federal regulations, swelled to nearly 80,000 pages during the Bush administration. To name but a few egregious current examples:
o The infamous light bulb law, which effectively bans standard incandescent bulbs, has already begun to drive jobs and capital overseas. It also restricts the choices free, law-abiding Americans can make regarding their energy options.
o According to a 30-year veteran of business ownership interviewed for this piece, the minimum wage is a significant job-killer. Instead of helping low-skill workers, it actually crowds them out of the job market by making their cost to an employer more expensive than the benefit to an employer.
o “Richard Gale,” a general contractor and member of the Debt-Paying Generation, told us a series of 2010 EPA lead regulations impose significant costs on his business. Formal estimates of the impact on businesses vary, but according to “Richard,” the “cost of training, licensing, lead testing and extensive precautionary measures make the cost of contracting services prohibitive to the customer,” and thus deprive “Richard” of approximately $20,000 in lost annual revenue.
o Myriad rules and restrictions on energy projects caused a natural gas pipeline, which stretches from Opal, Wyoming to Malin, Oregon, to finish four months late and 23% over budget.
Ours is the longest-lasting recession in several generations, and it is likely to continue for some time— despite the influx of government debt over the last 4 years. At the current pace of job creation vs. debt creation, the Debt-Paying Generation is in serious trouble: according to August 2010 Bureau of Labor Studies statistics, 16-24 year olds have an unemployment rate of over 20%. An entire subsection of young people is losing the opportunities necessary to garner job skills, grow their retirement savings and purchase their first home. And while the spending cuts we recommend won’t balance the budget, they represent a serious down payment that will grant politicians a little more time to tackle the “big four” expenses of our federal government: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and national defense.
It heartens us to see influential public figures finally returning their collective focus to unemployment. Now, we challenge them to take matters one step further and offer credible proposals on how to get America back on the path to recovery.