"Out of ideas; out of excuses." That’s Mitt Romney’s critique of Barack Obama. I’d like to second that indictment.
It’s not just the president who is out of ideas. It’s the entire political left. And that’s not a new development. I can’t think of an interesting, left-of-center public policy idea that has gained currency in decades.
How to get the economy moving and create jobs? The liberal answer is more government spending. Yet the "stimulus" package was basically wasted on pork barrel projects of little lasting economic value. One of every two people hired with stimulus money actually had another job before being hired! And the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the long term impact of the stimulus bill will be lower — not higher — national output.
Ditto for the Obama administration’s new budget. Granted, not a single Democrat in Congress supports it. The vote in the House of Representatives was 414 to zero! But suppose the Obama administration budget had become law? After all, the president is implicitly defending his budget ideas when he is out on the campaign trail. The CBO has projected that the latest Obama budget proposal would make our GDP lower, not higher, over the next five years.
Meanwhile, the economic uncertainty the administration is creating is undoubtedly making things worse. Business managers considering hiring new employees are surely burdened by the fact that they do not know what ObamaCare is going to do to their cost of health insurance, what Obama labor regulations are going to do to their other costs of labor, what Dodd/Frank financial regulation is going to do to their ability to borrow or what other regulatory agencies are going to do to their other costs of doing business.
As for entitlement reform, there really is no liberal solution to the financial problems of Social Security, Medicare, disability Insurance or any other entitlement. More than 30 countries have fully or partially privatized their social security systems by creating individual private accounts, by which each new generation of workers can save for their own retirement. But in the United States, a growing number of members of Congress have signed a pledge not to support any Social Security reform that involves the creation of private accounts.
John C. Goodman is President of the Goodman Institute and a Senior Fellow at The Independent Institute. He is the author of the widely acclaimed book, Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis. The Wall Street Journal and National Journal, among other media, have called him the "Father of Health Savings Accounts.”