John Stossel: Budget baloney
This week, President Barack Obama proposed "a budget that will create new jobs in manufacturing and energy and innovation and infrastructure, and we'll pay for every dime of it by cutting unnecessary spending, closing wasteful tax loopholes!"
What? I must have fallen asleep and woken up in 2008. That could not be something he'd claim after five years in office — years after making similar claims and not delivering on them.
Does he think we have no memory, or that we're just ignorant? Are these just poll-tested phrases that work because most voters are too busy to pay attention?
This one smug sentence alone is amazing in its confidence and deceit. Let's break it down:
• "I will ... create new jobs ... "
Politicians always say that, but this President says it especially often. Do voters not know that government has no money of its own, so when politicians "create" jobs, they take money from the private sector, the only group that creates real jobs?
I emphasize "real" because, of course, politicians can create jobs by funding companies like Solyndra, hiring more staff or paying people to dig holes and fill them up. But those jobs don't last or create real wealth. Politicians can't create real employment by taxing people and giving the money to others.
This post-recession economic recovery is the slowest ever. Usually, after a recession, the cost of labor drops, and companies rush to hire so they can profit as the economy improves.
This time, employers looked at a thousand new regulations, unknowable new rules and taxes coming from Obamacare, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, the Labor Department and so on. They decided: "I better not try."
May I hire interns to see if I like them before offering them long-term jobs? No. It may not be legal to employ interns anymore.
May I build a pipeline? Maybe. But the Environmental Protection Agency must approve. And state utilities. And state environmental officials. And the State Department. And the White House. And ... who knows whom else?
We might get permission in a year, or three years, or five, or we may never be allowed to build. Maybe instead I'll invest in a country where the rules are predictable and understandable.
• The President says he will "create new jobs in manufacturing ... "
Manufacturing? Don't voters know that service jobs are just as real and good? Creating software, movies and medical innovation is just as valuable as manufacturing and often more comfortable for workers. Most parents want their kids to get jobs in offices or medical centers rather than mines or factories.
• The President also says he will "create new jobs in ... energy ... "
Don't people remember Solar One, Solyndra, Evergreen Solar, etc., and the billions lost? That the private sector is better at developing new forms of energy than politicians? That the boom in cleaner, cheaper natural gas came in spite of politicians, not because of them?
• The President says he will "create jobs in ... infrastructure ... "
Did voters already forget that the last "shovel-ready" jobs didn't materialize? That billions went to politicians' cronies?
• The President will pay for his new spending "by cutting unnecessary spending ... "
Give me a break. The President has had five years, two of which he was supported by a Democratic Congress, to cut "unnecessary spending."
Even today's proposed shrinking of the size of the military to pre-World War II levels (which probably won't happen) isn't a cut. Obama's new budget proposes increasing Pentagon funds by $28 billion.
• The President even backed off from his earlier commitment to use more realistic cost-of-living adjustments when calculating Social Security payments.
• Most annoying, the President brags that he has "reduced the deficit at the fastest rate in 60 years."
But that's only if compared to his and former President George W. Bush's blowout stimulus of 2008. Much of the deficit reduction came from spending cuts (sequestration), which the President himself opposed, forced by Republicans. And his 2015 budget proposes $56 billion more spending than he and Congress had agreed to earlier.
Our debt will soon explode because baby boomers are about to retire. On this track, we are doomed.
John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed."