A Freedom Recipe

Bill Murchison
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Posted: Aug 23, 2011 12:01 AM
"The Tea Party can go straight to hell," said Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California the other day. Having taken aboard that helpful piece of counsel, we can now press ahead with the task of putting America back to work -- the task Ms. Waters's party leader, our president, says he will address after Labor Day.

Possibly, he will do so with a little more healing unction, but maybe not a lot more creativity, considering the administration's inability thus far to get its arms around a fundamental economic truth. The truth in question: free people work harder than, shall we say, less free people.

The administration's soon-to-be-announced plan for job creation and growth won't likely be long on the big measures needed to restore long-term confidence in America's commitment to those urgent goals. A vast opportunity for contrast seems at hand. One hopes the Republicans, whether serving in Congress or running for president, will grasp it quickly -- as much for clarity's sake as for political advantage. We could use some clearness in these muddled times.

A Republican response to the President's forthcoming proposals should have an aura about it -- the aura of freedom.

We didn't talk much about freedom during the debt-ceiling agonies. We trafficked mostly in mechanics -- tax rates, spending levels, balanced budget amendments and the like. The imperatives of the moment dictated that approach. Congress had to do specific things in theoretical, if partly futile, defense of the national credit rating.

We move on at last to job creation, which President Obama, out of political urgency, will have specific things to say. Unless unregenerate fans of marketplace capitalism miss their guess, the word "freedom" will not occur in his text. We'll hear instead that the government should do certain things.

Well, the government should, just so long as the things it does, differ sharply from many of the things it's been doing (with no beneficial effect on joblessness). What the government should do, in policy terms, if it seeks the revival of prosperity, is move from the center of the economic canvas, so others may pick up their brushes and get to painting, according to instinct and inclination.

A Republican party serious about shoveling the Obama wreckage off the economic highway will propose detailed measures tailored specifically to lighten, if not remove, government burdens from the backs of the job-creators. "Our government," says Texas Congressman Jeb Hensarling, co-chairman of the Congressional super-committee charged with finding ways to cut federal spending, "has gotten so big, so expensive, it's keeping our economy from recovering as it should." Which is about the size of things.

If freedom, as history demonstrates consistently, furthers creativity, investment, risk-taking and, finally, job-creation, any government program downplaying freedom requires a quick riposte: No thanks, we can do better. How? Many things come to mind, among them: tax reform.

Though, we're not going to get meaningful overhaul of a ridiculous, job-depressing system before the next election. A good start could be quick reduction of the combined corporate tax rate -- second highest in the world -- to something more realistic and job-growing.

New energy policies could encourage exploration for oil and natural gas in offshore and other federally controlled areas. The U. S. Chamber of Commerce quotes estimates of a trillion barrels of oil available in our own country for ready use. Think lower gasoline prices and by the chamber's reckoning, 500,000 American jobs.

Oh, and maybe to accompany such policies, a new rhetorical tone from the top: one not meant to abuse and terrify businessmen. Rather, to encourage them, putting the government on their side for a change. When your own president goes out of his way to disparage economic success, you get the impression the United States may not be the world's best place to do business. Anymore, that is. It used to be such a place. If it isn't now, the disinterested may guess why.