There are two stories out there that, it seems to me, very few are willing to directly connect. Here’s one, which is the story in the headline.
The U.S. economy grew at a meager 1 percent annual pace this spring, slower than previously estimated. The downward revision stoked fears that the economy is at risk of another recession.
Fewer exports and weaker growth in business stockpiles led the government to lower its growth estimate for the April-June quarter from the initial 1.3 percent rate.
The economy expanded only 0.7 percent in the first six months of the year, the Commerce Department said Friday.
It’s interesting how the Obama administration keeps putting out numbers that end up being better than the truth, and the press keeps falling for it.
Now here’s the second story, about which I’ve already written today — the apparently unstoppable march of Obama’s regulatory state. There are 4,257 new regulatory actions hitting businesses this year. That’s on top of the more than 4,000 that hit businesses last year, and the more than 3,000 that hit in 2009.
Am I crazy to see a connection here? When you pound the life out of business with a massive and often confusing regulatory state, you end up with a stagnant economy. A vibrant economy depends to a great extent on confidence — confidence that your hires will help produce more profits, confidence that you will get to reap the rewards for your hard work, and confidence that the state isn’t waiting to spring some nasty new surprise on you ten minutes from now. But fear is part of what is keeping businesses from hiring — fear that their obligations for new hires will outpace the benefits of hiring them, fear that the tax burden will eat up all of their profits, fear that at any moment some insane new regulation will smash into their business like a comet and shut them down entirely. As long as that fear is in command, the economy will not get out of its funk. The gloom, despair and agony out there will not just magically go away.
The latest example of the government as comet strike, by the way, centers on the Department of Justice’s inexplicable action against Gibson Guitar. Last time I checked, it wasn’t the US DoJ’s job to enforce laws passed in India. But that’s what seems to be happening, and has shut down a legendary American icon. If you’re a business owner and you see your own government taking this sort of action, unless you’re Gibson’s most bitter competitor, your reaction is likely to be: Fear. Pair it up with what the NLRB is doing to Boeing: Fear. Throw in a dash of ObamaCare: Fear. See what the EPA is doing to power producers: Fear.
It’s fear, as far as the eye can see. Or at least until January, 2013.
Obama could make some of that fear go away today if he wanted to, by relegating his regulatory state to the dust bin of history via executive order. But Obama is choosing not to do it.
All of this seems very obvious to me, but evidently not to the MSM. They never make the connection. They just keep buying the administration’s inflated growth numbers, and fret that the economy has the Golfer in Chief’s job in jeopardy. And they never call the regulatory state into question.
Obama’s job should be in jeopardy. He either stinks at it, or he is going out of his way to fail at it in order to accomplish some larger purpose. We really aren’t left with any other alternatives here.