September 4, 2009
By Elaine Chao
On Labor Day, millions of Americans will consult their Rand
McNally Road Atlas before hitting the highway. But those seeking
the quickest route to Lost jobs and Delayed Recovery need only to
follow the Obama-Pelosi Policy Atlas.
The OPPA-preferred route starts in Protectionism, and tells you
to take a hard left at Higher taxes as you speed on to Higher
Spending. Don't miss that head-spinning left at Global Warming or
the dizzying spiral of loopy lefts approaching Health Care.
Following this route, you'll find yourself where we are this
Labor Day - mired in high unemployment and rising taxes. Even the
kids in the back seat are upset. After all, this trip's been
financed on their credit cards, and they're not thrilled about
being saddled with trillions of dollars in additional debt.
It's no way to spend a holiday. And no way for our nation to get
to Economic Recovery and Job Growth - the places we really need to
The OPPA route is nothing new. It follows the decades-old
liberal agenda on trade, health care, global warming and mass
unionization. That agenda has never brought prosperity to
Consider trade protectionism. It's been tried - and found
wanting - since the Great Depression. Smoot and Hawley ginned up
The Tariff Act of 1930 to get America back to work after the Stock
Market Crash of '29. Instead, it destroyed trade so effectively
that by 1932, American exports to Europe were just a third of what
they had been in 1929. World trade fell two-thirds as other nations
retaliated. jobs evaporated.
Unfortunately, Obama's first big initiative - the stimulus bill
- contained protectionist "Buy American" provisions that have
already triggered retaliation from our biggest trading partner,
This was followed by protectionist legislation targeting Mexican
trucking. Mexico is our third-largest trading partner. Our neighbor
to the south promptly retaliated by slapping tariffs on 90 American
exports. Way to grow the economy, team!
Meanwhile, employers are struggling to survive. They're looking
for ways to cut costs without cutting jobs. The OPPA response: Pile
on. The president and Speaker Pelosi spent the summer trying to ram
through health-care "reform" that would slap an additional 8
percent payroll tax on employers who can't afford a
government-approved health plan. It's a prescription for pricing
workers right out of a job.
How about helping working families meet their household bills?
Rising energy costs kill jobs and hit America's poorest the
hardest. Yet, OPPA is pushing "global warming" legislation that
would require factories, power plants, refineries and other large
energy consumers such as schools and hospitals to obtain federal
permits to emit carbon. It would drain trillions of dollars out of
the private economy and into federal coffers.
The only thing we can say about this legislation with any amount
of certainty is that it would cost at least 2.5 million jobs to
achieve, at most, a temperature drop of no more than two-tenths of
a degree by the 22nd century.
The Obama administration is also working to eliminate
traditional worker protections. It is pressing for a union-backed
"card check" law that strips workers' of their right to cast secret
ballots in unionization elections. The act would force workers to
publicly sign union cards in front of union organizers. Workers who
tell organizers they don't really want to unionize - or to pay
those dues - would face pressure to "reconsider."
The OPPA-recommended route presents awfully bleak vistas: higher
taxes, massive deficits pressuring interest rates and inflation,
more expensive mandates, punitive bureaucracies, impediments to
commerce, forced unionization. All are job killers.
For Labor Day, or any other day, it offers no joy-ride for the
Elaine L. Chao was secretary of labor
in the Bush administration from 2001 to 2009 and is a distinguished
fellow at The Heritage Foundation.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune News Service
On Labor Day, millions of Americans will consult their Rand McNally Road Atlas before hitting the highway. But those seeking the quickest route to Lost Jobs and Delayed Recovery need only to follow the Obama-Pelosi Policy Atlas.
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