Back in September when President Obama was arguing for his third stimulus, he pronounced America soft and said we lacked a competitive edge. At the same time, the NFL cognoscenti were declaring Tim Tebow an NFL bust despite being a first-round draft pick. Remarkably, Tim Tebow and the U.S. economy are showing signs of resurgence.
The news that the U.S. unemployment rate fell from 9.0 to 8.6 percent in November (though due largely to job seekers exiting the market) is as surprising as Tebow’s 7-1 record since becoming the Broncos’ starting quarterback. Tebow’s late-fourth-quarter magic and five come-from-behind victories (three in overtime) have rocketed the Broncos from worst to first in their division, earning Tebow the confidence of coaches and teammates, and the adoration of fans.
If only America’s private-sector “quarterbacks” were liberated to call their own plays and scramble like an unleashed Tebow, America could win the economic equivalent of the Super Bowl — GDP growth of 4.5 percent and unemployment of 6 percent.
If politicians were as wise as Tebow’s coach, they’d formulate strategies to get business owners off the sidelines. They could start by reducing excessive regulations that, according to the Small Business Administration, cost the economy $1.75 trillion in 2008, more than individual and corporate income taxes combined — and that’s more than 11,000 regulations ago. In stronger economies, businesses are better equipped to tackle runaway regulators, who often view them as the opponent. Now, the 22.9 million Americans who are unemployed, underemployed or too discouraged to look for employment are consigned to the injured reserve list.
As politicians play political football with our fate, they demonstrate greater concern for the next election than for the next generation. If politicians were truly interested in growing the economy, creating jobs and paying off the national debt, they wouldn’t propose micro-measures like the temporary extension of the Social Security payroll tax cut. While hardworking taxpayers welcome savings, this temporary cut is minimally pro-growth and further erodes Social Security’s solvency. Furthermore, offering current benefits financed by faux spending cuts or never-to-materialize revenues is the very accounting gimmickry that has undermined America’s fiscal stability and credit worthiness. How many Americans know that the so-called “Budget Control Act of 2011” that raised the debt ceiling actually increases spending by $830 billion over current expenditures?
We know that to recover fiscal stability we must get taxpaying Americans back in the game. Six percent unemployment by 2014 requires an additional 14 million jobs, or 400,000 each month (compared with the 120,000 added last month). This implies an annual growth rate not seen since 1999 and triple this year’s 1.5 percent.
Meanwhile, like the Broncos’ fans after the team’s dismal 1-5 start, Americans lack confidence. A recent Rasmussen poll shows that only 18 percent of Americans believe today’s children will be better off than their parents, perhaps because 68 percent of Americans believe government and big business work together against their interests.
This is where the tea party meets Occupy Wall Street — at the intersection of their complaint that the economic game’s officiating is unfair, as though a touchdown counts for more points if you’re from the favored team. Both movements want to reform a system that allows special interests to lobby for politicians to have more power to manage the economy, thus enabling politicians to enact favorable laws and regulations or allocate money for these special interests. When special corporate interests keep profits but share losses with hapless taxpayers, those without political connections suffer unfair competition. The result is a crisis of legitimacy that corrodes social trust, undermines effort and hurts our most vulnerable.
The most poorly officiated segment of our economy is the energy sector. It should be national policy to promote affordable energy, which is the lifeblood of any vibrant economy. But after 25 years of backward energy policies, Americans are unaware that we have more recoverable oil than the entire world has used in 150 years and the world’s largest holding of natural gas, oil and coal resources, according to last week’s Institute for Energy Research report. Allowing development of American resources would lower prices throughout the economy and promote energy independence, job creation and American competitiveness. It also would generate billions in tax revenues — considerably more than an anti-growth surtax on “millionaires and billionaires.”
If job creation and deficit reduction were really policymakers’ top priorities, they’d study North Dakota, where in 2011 the energy boom generated 20,000 well-paying jobs, a $1 billion budget surplus and America’s best unemployment (3.5 percent) and growth (7.1 percent) rates.
Throughout America’s history, our private-sector quarterbacks have demonstrated the tenacity, skill, self-discipline, confidence and faith that put Tebow back under center. If allowed on the field, America’s “gamers” will prove that not only aren’t we soft, we’re winners, like Tebow.