Opinion: Editorials

Examiner Editorial: A bad startup: Obama's 'Secretary of Business'

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Opinion,Editorial

The only thing scarier than what President Obama plans to do without Republican help in his second term is what he plans to do with it.

We already have a vague outline of what Obama will try to push through Congress if he wins re-election and the Democrats retake the House: Higher taxes on wage earners, more costly regulations on oil and gas production, an immigration amnesty and skyrocketing spending across the board.

But pressed by MSNBC's Joe Scarborough to identify what he could really get done in a second term if Republicans maintain control of the House, Obama predicted, "we can start looking at a whole bunch of other issues that, as I said, historically have not been that ideological."

Obama's top nonideological issue? Creating a brand new "Secretary of Business" so there can be a "one-stop shop" for firms seeking tax breaks, subsidies, and other handouts from the federal government. This is Obama's idea of bipartisanship. It is also the reason Obamanomics has failed so badly. The fact that Obama thinks businesses need a Cabinet secretary is itself a sign of how little he understands the free enterprise system.

Obama has no concept of the difference between "pro-business" policies and "pro-market" policies. The former give privileges to specific businesses -- usually larger, incumbent, and politically connected ones -- at the expense of startups and political outsiders. Pro-market policies remove government barriers to markets, letting good firms succeed and bad ones fail, thus increasing competition and making it easier for new firms to grow.

According to the Kauffman Foundation, nearly all net job creation in the United States between 1980 and 2005 occurred in firms less than five years old. These firms are the very ones suffering the most under Obama's existing "pro-business" policies.

Take Obamacare, which Obama never ceases to mention includes special tax breaks for small businesses. Only 170,000 businesses out of 4 million potentially eligible companies have taken the time to apply for these tax breaks. For the most part, all Obamacare has done for small businesses is raise their labor costs.

Worse, Obamacare essentially turns our heavily concentrated health insurance market into a highly regulated public utility. Bureaucrats will determine what insurers can charge, what share of their expenses can go for this or that, and how much profit they can make. This is not a recipe for experimentation and innovation in the health care sector. It's a death sentence of stagnation that will lock Americans into rising health care costs indefinitely.

The last thing new businesses need is another layer of bureaucrats and regulatory costs from Washington. What they do need is a simplified tax code with more competitive rates, fewer but smarter regulations, and a federal government that isn't drowning in debt. Unfortunately none of these things is on Obama's second-term agenda.

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