PJM's Post-Election Symposium: What Should Barack Obama Do Next? (Updated)
Upon his inauguration, President Obama said, "The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works." Since then, however, this administration has nurtured record growth in both government’s spending and influence in taxpayers’ daily lives. And with more than 14 million Americans still unemployed and our national debt approaching $14 trillion, it is clear that Obama administration policymakers failed to understand the economic and psychological wounds big government inflicts upon our job creators. The federal government is too large and dysfunctional, as House Republicans and the citizens we serve have told the White House for two years. Last night, voters soundly rejected Washington’s excesses and sent a clear message: listen to us, stop growing government, and start cutting spending.
-- Rep. Issa (R-CA) is the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
As the election returns are certified and reality settles in for the Washington power structure, I believe President Obama should begin by acknowledging the message just sent by the American people. No matter where they come from or how their last name is spelled, Americans value freedom from excessive government interference and oppressive taxation. That desire was the heartbeat of our nation’s first settlers and it continues today in people of every race, creed, and political party.
If the president really wants to turn around the national economy, I would encourage him to take a long look at the approach we’ve taken here in Texas that has resulted in our leading the nation in job creation for the past ten years. We’ve operated from a comfortable grasp of the government’s legitimate role in the economy: establishing a level playing field, then stepping out of the way.
Call it the “Texas Fourstep” if you like, but our success has a lot to do with four basic guidelines that have informed our decisions for nearly ten years. First, we don’t spend all the money, so we have resources set aside for a rainy day. Second, we maintain a regulatory climate that is predictable, so employers don’t get whipsawed by unexpected changes. Third, we went to great lengths to reform our legal system, amending our constitution with genuine tort reform that has cut down on a plague of frivolous lawsuits that were crippling businesses and driving doctors out of state. Fourth, we have made our schools more accountable so that our young people are getting better prepared to compete for high tech jobs.
It boggles the mind to consider the effect those four simple rules could have on our nation’s economy in terms of job creation and freeing up the capital that business leaders have socked away. Such an approach allows employers to focus on creating jobs, attracting investment and building prosperity. Unfortunately, the president would be swimming upstream against decades of institutional inertia and a power structure designed to acquire more power, not necessarily do what is best for our citizens.
That is why the states are so important to the resurgence of our national economy. I believe our Founding Fathers got it right when they included the 10th Amendment in the Bill of Rights, knowing that the states are the real laboratories of innovation. Rather than look for centralized solutions, I would hope that the president would focus on pulling back the intrusive tentacles of the federal government to free up the states to thrive.
Even Texas would benefit from a smaller federal government. To me, smaller government would put an end to unnecessary and unproductive cap & trade legislation, intrusive health care changes, and the increasingly unpredictable actions of everyone’s favorite rogue agency, the EPA. So I will continue to work with our state leaders and my fellow governors from both parties to encourage such changes as a way to get our nation back on track.
-- Rick Perry is the governor of Texas.
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