Economy not ‘doing fine’ – and don’t blame local governments

The “private sector is doing fine,” is what President Obama said a few weeks back. He went on to say that local and state governments are responsible for the struggling economy.

The president is right that local governments have been forced to trim their budgets in response to the economic downturn. Having served as a Clark County commissioner for 28 years, I know that our local governments have made major budget cuts and the school district recently had to lay off more than 400 teachers. But President Obama’s comments demonstrate a misunderstanding of how our economy works.

Two years ago, he revealed a better understanding when he said, “When times are tough, you tighten your belts. …You make tough choices. And it’s time your government did the same.” Unlike Washington, local governments have made these tough decisions. By law, we have to balance our budgets. President Obama has not made the tough choices. Instead, he’s run up record-breaking deficits.

Despite spending more than $800 billion on economic stimulus, the policies of this administration have failed to get Americans back to work. We have seen the unemployment rate stuck above 8 percent nationwide for more than 40 months. Here in Nevada, things are far worse, with unemployment now at nearly 12 percent. The private-sector work force is at its lowest level in memory, and the net worth of the average family has shrunk by 40 percent over the past three years.

The struggles so many families are facing here are heartbreaking.

President Obama’s “solution” is to increase our massive national debt to enable local entities to hire more police, firefighters and teachers. But another bailout or stimulus will not fix what ails us. Who will pay the salaries and benefits for these new government employees next year? Once again, there will be layoffs or higher taxes. Instead, we need policies that foster a private sector with sufficient vitality to lift up the public sector, providing it with the tax revenues needed for essential services.

President Obama has gone in the opposite direction. Instead of implementing policies that promote job creation, he has pursued an agenda that stifles hiring. From higher taxes to burdensome regulations to rising health care costs as a result of ObamaCare, President Obama’s initiatives are marked by hostility to business.

The results are telling. Under President Obama, new business start-ups have reached the lowest level in three decades. Facing government overreach, employers are discouraged from hiring new employees. The anemic economic growth rate of 1.9 percent in the first quarter of this year speaks for itself.

After presiding over the only downgrade of the credit rating of the U.S. government in our history, President Obama has only promised us more of the same policies.

Nevada has lost 68,200 jobs since he took office. We urgently need an upgrade in leadership and a major course correction. We need a president who knows that the private sector is not “doing fine.”

If we are to hire the firefighters and policemen and teachers we need, we need to jump-start the private sector. By repealing ObamaCare, we can restore certainty for small businesses. By reforming our incomprehensible tax code, we can stimulate economic growth across the board. By cutting our bloated federal budget, we will ensure that America remains an attractive place for investment.

Bruce Woodbury, a Republican, served on the Clark County Commission from 1981-2008.

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