FEAR FACTOR: Conservative economist Stephen Moore says businesses across the country are afraid to invest because they’re worried about what Washington will do next.
By Rob Nikolewski │ New Mexico Watchdog
ALBUQUERQUE — Economists and the Obama administration have been talking about the economic recovery for more than four years, but for millions of Americans, it sure doesn’t feel like much of a recovery.
In the mind of the chief economist of the Heritage Foundation, a leading conservative think tank, part of the blame for lackluster financial numbers rests on the steps of Capitol Hill and the White House.
“I think it’s almost a psychological-cultural thing in Washington that we’ve treated businesses like they’re ATM machines, that the purpose of businesses is to pay more taxes and pay for more government services,” Stephen Moore said after he gave a one-hour speech in Albuquerque on Friday. “The problem is, that’s one of the reasons small businesses aren’t expanding.”
Moore, also a contributor and former writer for the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, says the potential for robust economic growth exists.
“If you look at businesses today, they’re sitting on one to two trillion dollars in capital,” Moore said. “So there’s a lot of money that could be reinvested in the economy and should be but isn’t because there’s a fear factor out there among businesses that as soon as they invest or hire more workers that some new shoe is going to drop on them from Washington.”
Coming from a fiscal conservative, it’s no surprise to hear that Moore wants reduced tax rates.
He showed the audience at the luncheon sponsored by the Rio Grande Foundation a couple slides:
“The days of the United States moving forward with the highest income tax rate in the world for corporations and businesses, that puts us at a natural disadvantage,” Moore said. “We should be among the lowest income tax countries, not the highest.”
Moore agrees that the middle class is getting squeezed.
“The average middle class family has lost $2,000 in income in real purchasing power since the recovery began,” he said. “So for half of American families this is no recovery at all, it’s still a recession.”
As for individual states, Moore says they should take on the financially painful responsibility of addressing the burgeoning weight of public pensions — which he blames on Republicans as well as Democrats — reduce or eliminate state income taxes and join 24 states that have passed ”right to work” legislation.
Nationally — again, not surprising to come from a conservative — Moore is a harsh critic of President Obama’s fiscal policies and calls for repealing the Affordable Care Act, that he calls “a job destroyer.”
But if Obama’s policies are as wrongheaded as Moore says, then why did he get re-elected 17 months ago?
“If you look at the (2012) election, it’s not really hard to understand why he won,” Moore said. “One exit poll explains everything and that was the question, Who do you think cares more about people like you? And Barack Obama won that 60-30 … (Republicans) have to be the solutions party. And right now, they’re not the solutions party. They’re just kind of against what Obama is for … Republicans need to make this point that they can help the middle class, that they’re not just for the rich and that they care about working people, and so far they just haven’t done a very good job of that.”
A number of conservatives have worried the country has changed, that too many people are becoming too reliant on government spending and an entitlements. But Moore says he retains his optimism.
“I believe what Reagan said, that it’s divine inspiration that put America here, as a beacon of freedom, and it’s almost in our DNA as Americans that we won’t move down the failed path of socialism,” Moore said. “That’s almost a religious faith to me.”
Here’s New Mexico Watchdog video of Moore talking about a host of economic issues:
Contact Rob Nikolewski at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @robnikolewski
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