By John F. Di Leo -
But not to worry, the president and the leaders of Congress are working on an agreement to raise real taxes and maybe, just maybe, to cut the projected increase in future spending a bit. Ooh. What a relief.
Have none of this nation’s leaders, and none of the mainstream media, ever taken an econ class? Haven’t they even played back their own speeches from as recently as a year ago? What on earth are they doing, talking about raising taxes in the midst of a five year recession?
Reality, not definitions
Don’t talk about how this isn’t really a recession because that requires two consecutive quarters of negative growth. This administration (with a complicit media) has been cooking the books for so long the American people have grown to like their statistics overdone and charred.
If we counted unemployment the way they counted it during the Great Depression, the unemployment statistics would have been north of fifteen percent for years now. At a time when Americans are the most mobile they’ve ever been, our driving costs have doubled as gasoline has doubled in price. And realtors spend time dusting their desks so that the sluggishness of the housing market at least isn’t quite so obvious.
The problem with our economy isn’t too low a tax rate – the total tax burden is monstrous, over forty percent of income for most of us, when total federal, state and local taxes are added up. And for many of us, for those in the especially highly taxed socialist states of California, Illinois, and New York, the bite is well over half our income, exceeding sixty percent because of the double and triple taxation of income taxes and property taxes and sales taxes and capital gains taxes. This tax structure is an outrage, and it still doesn’t produce enough revenue to fund the big-spending government.
So we call for spending cuts, for austerity measures, the same solution that the IMF and EU propose to the gasping Greeks, Italians, and Spaniards. Raise taxes and cut spending, any way you can, any way the politicians can sell it to the public. Then you’ll balance your budget.
Only it doesn’t work. Because the more you raise your tax rates, the more you starve the private sector. That drives more people out of work and into the arms of the welfare state. The unemployed and unemployable need unemployment checks, welfare checks, housing assistance, food stamps.
The increase in the cost of government is tied directly to the increase in tax rates. As taxes punish the employers, the labor force becomes unemployed and drives up government spending. It is an inescapable maelstrom – once begun, the only direction it can lead is downward.
The real problem
The cause of this disaster is indeed spending, but not the entitlement spending that most politicians talk about. It’s easy to see food stamp numbers going up, so it’s easy to call for cutting them back. But that’s just a symptom; it’s not the disease.
The disease is spending on government agencies, on federal, state, and local bureaucrats who write regulations, the rules that do even more harm that taxes do.
The bureaucrat who requires that used cars be bought and destroyed for a “cash for clunkers” check… the bureaucrat who demands that every new building add costly handicap-friendly features, adding tens of thousands – or even hundreds of thousands – to building projects. The bureaucrat who demands that animal impact surveys and plant impact surveys and insect impact surveys be done, before a road can be laid or a bridge can be repaired or a pipeline can be built.
Aim those scissors somewhere else, Mr. Boehner; it’s the strangling miles of red tape that need to be cut!
When conservatives complained about such overreach from Washington and our state capitals, years ago, we were told we were making a mountain out of a molehill, complaining about such little things. But they add up. Hundreds of thousands of new regulations have sprung up in recent decades – yes, under Republican administrations as well as Democrats, though no Republican ever fattened the Federal Register with as much gleeful abandon as do modern Democrats.
Today, we learn that there are mountains of regulations that the Obama administration was holding in check in 2012, afraid to release them for fear of jeopardizing the reelection effort… but since his narrow victory, they’ve been dotting the Is and crossing the Ts, readying them for rollout in 2013.
From the ridiculous “conflict minerals” tracking that makes consumers of steel attempt the wild goose chase of determining the origin of trace elements in their steel alloys, to century-old hobgoblins like the Lacey Act that have now been stretched to restrict purchases of wood and paper products, to the brand new regulations on medical devices and health coverage plans as detailed in the 2700-page engine of economic destruction known as Obamacare, this administration is bound and determined to slow the American economy to a standstill. If you think economic growth is at a snail’s pace today, just wait ‘til you see the next four years.
Senator Inhofe has been warning the country for months, for example, of the unfettered EPA’s plans for an avalanche of red tape. The EPA’s new regulations on boilers could destroy 800,000 jobs… their new regulations on hydraulic fracking will add some $500,000 to the cost of each and every well… and even now, thirty-some years after the catalytic converter succeeded in rendering automobiles essentially non-polluting, they’re releasing even more expensive and unjustifiable rules to fight for every last millionth of particulate in gasoline, helping to drive up the cost at the pump even more, as if high taxes, devalued currency, and dependence on imported oil weren’t doing enough damage on that front already.
The same could be said of so many other agencies. The FHA dreams up new rules for issuing mortgages. The FDA and Department of Education seek to get their claws into school lunch programs. The Department of Energy continues to fight every drilling rig for every drop of domestic crude.
With every new page added to the Federal Register, more jobs are eliminated, more businesses are driven to foreign shores, more wealth is destroyed, more families are devastated. And while the history of this reckless growth has bipartisan fingerprints on it, the acceleration over the past four years is truly unprecedented and purely Democratic.
There is a REASON that housing still hasn’t recovered: people without raises don’t move up, people without jobs don’t move in.
There is a REASON that manufacturing is still sluggish: manufacturers have been moving assembly lines overseas for years, trying to minimize the damage that this administration can do to them.
There is a REASON that our children still aren’t learning at the pace of our competitors abroad: government mandates have clogged the school day with garbage, so that even the best of our teachers in the best of our schools see half of their students’ precious school time wasted on mandated irrelevancies.
As our politicians negotiate ‘til the wee small hours, arguing for trade-offs of tax hikes for entitlement spending cuts, do any of them realize what a fool’s errand their quest really is?
The solution to our problems will not be found in tax hikes or food stamp cuts. The solution lies in personnel cuts in the most destructive of our nation’s many institutionalized enemies within.
The EPA, the FDA, the Departments of Education and Energy and Housing, and most of all, of Health and Human Services. These government behemoths do far more damage to this nation in an hour than Al Qaeda could have done in a year. They kill initiative, dissuade innovation, drive businesses abroad and drive people into bankruptcy.
The problem is far greater than mere tax rates and entitlements. Tax rate cuts can help spur a booming economy (as they did for Kennedy and Reagan), one that would create jobs and free the jobless from the welfare state. This is true.
But even with tax cuts and entitlement reform (even if these necessities were on the horizon, which they are sadly not, at present), the economy still won’t really be able to roar back until we take an axe to the federal agencies that strangle us all, whether visibly or not, with red tape that is wasteful at best, but is all too often utterly destructive to our people, our heritage, and our legacy.
Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Reid, and President Obama: if you want to save the American people from an economic death spiral, forget the taxes and forget the monthly checks. Concentrate on switching off the computers from which your sniveling little pencil pushers wreak such havoc in their battle command centers along Constitution and Independence Boulevards.
Or soon there won’t be any private sector left for any future generation to save.
Copyright 2012 John F. Di Leo
John F. Di Leo is a Chicago-based Customs broker and trade compliance lecturer. His columns appear regularly in Illinois Review. A former chairman of the Milwaukee County GOP, he has now been a recovering politician for over fifteen years.
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