Ed Driscoll

Throwing Molotov Cocktails at Business

As Daniel Henninger writes, “Calvin Coolidge once said, ‘The chief business of the American people is business.’ The Democrats just lost America because they forgot that:”

President Coolidge was more eloquent on this truth. The American people “are profoundly concerned with producing, buying, selling, investing and prospering in the world. The great majority of people will always find these are moving impulses of our life.”

But much of what this Democratic Congress did, or tried to do, was like throwing Molotov cocktails at business. It began in early 2009 with the cap-and-trade climate bill. The country was going to have to chow down its provisions no matter how many jobs got lost in Ohio, West Virginia, Michigan and other coal-using states. The bill portended so much damage to businesses in these states that some of the Senate’s most liberal members had to beg off supporting it.

At his news conference last week, Mr. Obama still wouldn’t rule out the EPA’s impending “carbon finding” to regulate emissions, another Freddy Krueger nightmare for the average business.

The air is filling now with suggestions of what the Democrats and Mr. Obama need to do. Always mentioned is that the president needs to repair his bad relations with “business.” But this is noted as just one item on the post-election to-do list: adjust the message, go to church more, reconnect with business, put up the storm windows.

The party’s decoupling from vast swaths of America at work didn’t start with Barack Obama. Al Gore and John Kerry ran hard against the depredations of the insurance, pharmaceutical and oil industries. The post-modern Democrats, starting at the top, convey the impression that the average company consists entirely of three guys in spats, silk vests and top hats, like the little character on the Monopoly cards, who deserve to be indicted or monitored.

And so any argument that the top marginal tax rate hits sole proprietorships and the like blows right by them. The “rich” gotta pay. They do pay, stop hiring and then they send money to American Crossroads to unelect Democrats.

Years ago the Democrats’ anti-business populism didn’t matter much because most people doing politics, including the populists, took for granted that politics included staying connected to local businesses. No more. Most Democrats are driving right past the Mom-and-Pop economy to public union headquarters. The party’s candidates are like brides of Dracula, locked forever in an embrace with infusions of public union political money (more than $170 million in this election).

Likely, most Democrats who’ve never been in business think that running one is easy. Twenty years ago, far left former presidential candidate George McGovern found out the hard way when his own business went bankrupt, that what Dan Aykroyd quipped in Ghostbusters about the private sector expecting results is true:

George McGovern laments that after his experience in the bed-and-breakfast business he realizes that laws and regulations pertaining to small business are actually hurting the lower-wage workers whom he had tried to help during his entire political career. With his Stratford Inn in bankruptcy, McGovern now says:

In retrospect, I wish I had known more about the hazards and difficulties of such a business…. I wish that during the years I was in public office I had this firsthand experience about the difficulties business people face every day. That knowledge would have made me a better Senator and a more understanding presidential contender… To create job opportunities, we need entrepreneurs who will risk their capital against an expected payoff. Too often, however, public policy does not consider whether we are choking off those opportunities.

And because the only way a politician will learn that is through direct experience, whether it’s before or after he takes office, as I said in February of 2009, paraphrasing a leader who greatly admired Coolidge, you and I have a rendezvous with scarcity…