Hey Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, here's your chance! President Obama, in his usual graduate seminar fashion, has promised to come back after Labor Day with his plan to "create jobs." We all know where this is going -- spend more government money, strengthen union regulations, raise the minimum wage, dig the deficit hole a little deeper.
So here's your opportunity. Put forth a Republican job program before Labor Day just to show who's really on the job. Make it look like you're the President while the commander in chief is scouting the dunes on Martha's Vineyard. Everything you need is already out there on the Republican agenda. Just tie them up in a big package to show people what they can vote for in 2012.
Here's a working agenda:
1. Build the Keystone Oil Sands Pipeline from Alberta to Texas to bring down Canadian oil for American refineries. The project is now being delayed by the State Department. The pipeline will not only be a huge construction project but it will lower gas prices.
2. Begin offshore oil drilling on the East and West Coasts. The two U.S. Senators from Virginia -- both Democrats! -- are already pushing for drilling on their shores. Alaska is ready to go as well. The people who are opposed to drilling are a distinct minority.
3. Revive the timber industry in the Northwest by admitting that the spotted owl was never a unique species and was not declining because of logging. The federal decision closed 60 percent of the sawmills in the Northwest and has created 20 percent unemployment in some areas. The latest report is that the spotted owl is being replaced by the barred owl, which is probably not a different species anyway. The two are mating in the wild. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service just recommended shooting barred owls in order to justify the federal policy. It's time for this madness to stop.
4. Limit environmental review to two years and put a limit on legal challenges. It now takes a minimum of seven years to build a new plant in the pulp and paper industry -- if there is no opposition. Environmental impact statements are generational undertakings and can last forever. It's become much more convenient to build in Mexico or China.
5. Limit design reviews at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to two years. Start replacing our aging fleet with new, safer reactors such as the Westinghouse AP1000, which has been under NRC review since 2004. Accelerate approval of the new small, modular reactors that can be buried underground for complete safety and cost $200 million instead of $8 billion.
6. Freeze minimum wage laws and create exceptions to encourage hiring of teenagers. Unemployment among teenagers is now approaching 50 percent and "flash mobs" are robbing convenience stores and invading downtowns. We're only a few steps away from British-style riots. And stop denigrating those jobs at McDonald's and Wal-Mart. Working at McDonald's is not "flipping hamburgers." It's skilled labor that requires discipline and strong interpersonal relationships. McDonald's and Wal-Mart have trained more people for the work force than all the federal "job-training" programs put together.
7. Encourage states to adopt right-to-work laws and honor them where they exist. In particular, call off the Department of Labor's ridiculous destructive campaign to try to stop Boeing, America's largest exporter, from building in South Carolina. Such policies not only encourage employers to move offshore.
8. Sign the free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama that have been languishing in Congress. The agreement with Korea alone would add $10 billion to the American economy and create 70,000 U.S. jobs. Free trade agreements with Canada and Mexico have created tremendous opportunities for U.S. industries.
9. Adopt the "English rule," which says that plaintiffs can be made to pay their defendants' legal costs if they lose a lawsuit. The rule was recently instituted in Texas but exists nowhere else. Being exposed to liability suits is one of the biggest reasons for not manufacturing in America. Plaintiff attorneys have extorted millions of dollars from U.S. firms by suing over matters as trivial as rounding errors on phone bills or Fed Ex charges on delivering legal documents. Corporations pay off only because they know their legal costs will far exceed the settlement. The English Rule levels the playing field and makes such lawsuits potentially costly to plaintiffs as well.
10. Reform health insurance by allowing insurance companies to sell policies across state lines and allow people to buy health insurance with tax-free dollars. These will be the first steps in unraveling employment-based health insurance system that makes it so expensive to hire new employees.
11. Eliminate all tax breaks and exemptions on corporate jets, oil companies, and anything else the Obama Administration can name. In turn, however, the corporate tax rate should be lowered to the world rate. Among the first "tax expenditures" to go will be the $6 billion annual subsidy to the ethanol industry.
12. Defend the dollar by making a sound currency the Federal Reserve's only responsibility. Stop trying to create jobs by printing money. A sound dollar will be our strongest suit in rebuilding America.
13. Reform entitlements, eliminate federal deficits, balance the budget and so forth.
Is there any need to go on? Just lay out the entire Republican agenda, which is a blueprint for creating jobs and putting America back to work.
And just for fun, let's predict what Obama's "jobs program" will be when he gets back from vacation. Here's a guess:
• Spend money on "green jobs."
• Spend money on "green jobs."
• Raise the minimum wage.
• Strengthen union leadership by eliminating secret ballots.
• Spend more government money on green jobs.
This week the administration gave a preview in announcing a "biofuels initiative." The Army, Navy and Air Force are going to run ships and planes on fermented crops. All this comes at a time when even the environmental movement is turning against biofuels. "The grain required to fill a 25 U.S. gallons fuel tank with ethanol will feed one person for a year," says Lester Brown, founder of the Worldwatch Institute and one of the country's most respected environmental leaders. Yet the amount of corn put in our gas tanks just passed silage for cattle as the biggest use of our national corn crop.
Think of that cartoon Lisa Benson did for the Washington Post. Obama has just chopped down a tall old redwood and is watering a little sprig in a flowerpot. The unfortunate tree is called the "U.S. economy." The sprig is labeled "green jobs."
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