Now, those are a couple of famous sentences, don‘t you think? Spoken by President Ronald Reagan at his first inauguration in January of 1981, they, along with much of the rest of the inaugural address, spoke to a new direction for the U.S. economy.
And it’s dumb-founding how, today, presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama can completely ignore the “direction” in which our economy has been moving for over a quarter-century, and seriously propose policies and ideals that move in the opposite direction.
Think about it.. When Reagan spoke those words of confidence about the free market, America’s economy was not nearly the fertile ground for entrepreneurship and business ownership that it is today. In 1981, the U.S. economy was dominated by “big business” (large corporations employed a huge percentage of American workers back then); “big labor” (union membership and its promises of “protection” were highly influential); and “big government” (the U.S. government is still a large employer today, but proportionately it was bigger back then).
Today, while the three “B’s” obviously still exist, one cannot begin to describe the U.S. economy without plenty of references to “small businesses,” entrepreneurship,” and “private business ownership.” And a majority of American workers are employed by a “small business.”
And what do Hillary and Obama have to say about the small business-oriented, highly entrepreneurial environment that defines today‘s economy? Well, for starters, they have both successfully defined the idea of “market competition” as being evil.
As the all-important Ohio primary election fast approaches, the dynamic duo have been coddling union organizers there who are trying to “get out the vote,” by convincing their members that the North American Free Trade Agreement is the cause of their economic anxiety today.
Obama can authentically oppose N.A.F.T.A., but this is a challenge for Mrs. Clinton. For one thing, she was “right there” in the White House when her husband signed the agreement into law (she likes to remind us that she was “right there” in the White House, but only when it is politically beneficial to do so). Further, according to NEWSWEEK magazine Mrs. Clinton allegedly expressed exuberance back in 2006 for N.A.F.T.A.’s impact on our economy, something she denies today.
But the point here is obvious - - the Democratic presidential candidates are presenting economic plans that are chock-full of ideas that reduce economic growth, rather than expanding it.
Mr. Obama, as his party’s front-runner, leads the way when it comes to reckless economic proposals. He claims that he wants to “re-open” trade deals (which is code language for saying that he wants to raise trade barriers). He wants to “regulate the profits” of oil companies (can we say “raise taxes on oil companies?”). And he wants to raise taxes on “the rich.” But Obama doesn’t simply want to tax the earnings of “the rich.” It would appear that, ultimately, Obama intends to tax people on their capital - - as if this would really assist his agenda of stopping American businesses from “shipping jobs overseas.”
Mrs. Clinton has argued for her expansive child welfare policies, claiming that without them, America’s kids won’t be ready for the “global marketplace” of the future. Yet at the same time, she rails against economic globalization and claims that we can prevent it. As for small business ownership, Mrs. Clinton has vowed that in her administration, government contracts will be awarded more fairly to women-owned small businesses - - a great way to take a serious economic concern and reduce it down to gender politics.
Mr. Obama has, of course, made “change” a central theme of his campaign. After ignoring this theme for a time, Mrs. Clinton eventually got on the bandwagon and assured us that she is for “change,” as well.
But while both Democratic presidential candidates promise “change,” they speak as though it is actually possible to avoid the very “change” that is naturally and intrinsically a part of our free market economy.
Indeed, attempts from government to stave-off this kind of change have proven disastrous time and again. Will Americans remember this in November?
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.