In search of the mythical “Job Creators!”


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“The mere threat of tax hikes causes uncertainty for job creators — uncertainty that results in less risk-taking and fewer jobs,” Boehner said.

Job creators are telling us that all of [Obamacare’s] new mandates and fees are stifling businesses and make it even harder for them to start hiring again.” – Mitch McConnell

Darrell Issa said his legislation [spurred by Obama's plan to make making companies bidding on federal contracts disclose their donations to third-party political groups] ‘preempts an executive order designed to silence and intimidate job creators and Americans who are passionate enough to support a cause.’ ”

May 27, 2011, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) highlights “A Plan for America’s Job Creators,” which proposes to “lower the tax rate for businesses and individuals to no more than 25%,” (1920′s rates)  “reform the tax code to allow American businesses to bring back their overseas profits without having to pay a tax penalty,” roll back as much regulation as possible, and “pass three pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea.”

It had to have been the FOX News, what drove Don over the edge.  Too much of it, all day, every day.  That, and the sheer depression and idleness after being laid off for so long – I’d managed to find some temporary work, but he’d been hanging on to the dream of finding something comparable to his old engineering job.

Let me try that again:  It had to have been the FOX News, the depression and idleness, and probably all the Oxys, for my roommate Don.  I don’t touch the stuff.

And it was gradual – I’d hear him mumbling “job creators.“  And he’d be filling spiral notebooks with his tiny scrawling and diagrams.   One afternoon he looked up at me with an enraptured gaze and proclaimed, “They’re like fat rich men, but with wings!  And I think I’ve figured out how to make them create jobs again!”

“Yeah, in India or China maybe,” I cracked.  “Laugh away!” he shot back, “at least I’m not working at a temp agency like some teenage girl.”  I left the room before I could get too pissed off.

Then for a few days Don was busy in the garage.  There was hammering, sawing, and constant babbling to himself, always to the background of old Rush CDs.  And then last Monday morning he was at my door:

“Okay, there are just a few things we know we need to do, to get them to start creating jobs again.  Get rid of the new healthcare law.  Get rid of regulations.  Basically make sure they know they can do whatever they want, with no restraints or oversight.  And, most of all … TAX CUTS!

“And how are you, an unemployed engineer, going to give the ‘Job Creators’ tax cuts, Don?”  Here he winked in an unsettling way.  “Follow me.  In the garage.”

He opened up the trunk of his Volvo and proudly showed me a box of meat, marked “Tax Cuts,” and what looked like an enormous folded-up kite.  “Don, those are COLD CUTS you bought at Ralph’s, and you changed ‘Cold’ to ‘Tax’ with a Sharpie.”

“Just trust me, this’ll work,” he snapped.  “You gonna trust me or not, temp boy?  I’m off to the financial district now.  Are you coming along, or staying home to watch me on the news?”

Well, I wasn’t going to miss this spectacle;  and also, if it came down to it, I would try to stop the men in white jackets from carting off my roommate.  “OK, Don, I’m in.”

“Well, all right then, Sancho!  Let’s hit the road!”

In the Financial District

I’ll spare you – no, I’ll spare Don the embarrassment of describing the scene he made of himself flying these imaginary “tax cuts” past the high office tower windows that afternoon.  Here’s the real thing I need to tell you – after having sat on a park bench watching him for over an hour, I heard a voice to my right murmur, “Job Creators, isn’t it?  That friend of yours is looking for Job Creators?”

Startled, I turned and replied, “How did you know that?”  “I see it here all the time,” answered the mysterious stranger, “That’s why I sit here.”  The man, in a long overcoat with a high collar, seemed to be surrounded by shadow, but his voice was somehow familiar – a soothing, folksy, modulated baritone.  And his hair was a pomaded pompadour right out of the fifties.

“Yes… I loved America.  And I loved freedom.  But at the moment I died…”  Here he cleared his throat and gazed wistfully into the distance.  “The moment I died, and the Alzheimer’s haze abruptly left me, I realized I’d been wrong about practically everything throughout my life.  Practically everything, except nuclear weapons.  So I’m here for decades to atone.  To atone for turning this great nation onto such a disastrous course.  And to talk sense into folks like your friend.  You think you can get him over here?”

“Hey Don!” I yelled.  Don’s eyes widened when he saw the stranger.  “THE GIPPER?”

“Yes, Don,” Reagan murmured, suddenly rising and opening his overcoat wide, at which point, with a thunderclap, all three of us were suddenly transported to another world….

…A World of Facts and Charts.

Seeming young again, Reagan strode toward the first gigantic chart in this world while explaining to us: “First thing everybody needs to understand. Businesses do not create jobs.” He looked at us slyly, with a half-smile.  “Really, Mr. President,” responded Don.  “What do you mean?  How do businesses not create jobs?  What does then?”

“Jobs are created by DEMAND!” the Gipper laughed. [1]  “Come on, just think about it.  Businesses are motivated to maximize their profits by GETTING RID of as many jobs as they can.   A job gets created when there’s a DEMAND for services, and the business has to expand, or a new one get started.  These tax cuts and all the other favors Republicans want to do for big businesses do NOTHING to create more demand, and do nothing to motivate businesses to hire more workers.  Does this make sense?”  He looked at us with a furrowed brow.

“Yeah, it sort of does,” said Don slowly.  “Wait, weren’t you a Republican?”

“Okay, now look at this first chart,” Reagan interrupted, ignoring the question.  The bright colorful graph towered over our heads and we craned our necks:

Reagan shook his head sadly.  “That clueless kid, Dubya.  Look at what his huge tax cuts for the rich did for job creation, over his eight-year term.  And this doesn’t even count the Great Recession.”  He looked at Don.  “And yet today’s Republicans want you to believe that continuing and deepening these cuts for the very wealthy will somehow be a magic bullet for more employment.  Ha!  It’s never happened that way.”

“But those very wealthy people are the Job Creators, aren’t they, Mr. President?” Don responded weakly.

“Most jobs are with small businesses.  Today’s Republicans are going to the mat for the top 2%.  Some of them are job creators, I suppose.  But studies show when they get their tax breaks the jobs they create are overseas.” [2]

“See?  I told you, Don,” I chimed in.

“I thought YOU were a Republican, Mr. President,” protested Don.

“I’m an independent now.” Reagan’s eyes twinkled.  “So now I can talk shit about today’s Republicans without breaking my ‘Eleventh Commandment!’ Now, look at this one…”

“Just look at that pathetic last column.  Would you say Bush’s Tax Cuts were pro-growth?  Or as Mark Shields suggested, they don’t help ‘job creators’ as much as they do ‘robber barons.’  But of course, today’s Republicans don’t really care at all about creating jobs.”

“You really don’t think so, Mr. Reagan?”

“Of course not.  Even right now they won’t join President Obama on passing a payroll tax CUT, which would immediately inject demand into the country.  Why not?  Well, for one thing, obviously, improving the economy would increase his chances for re-election… But there’s more to it…  Let’s move on to the next chart…”

“See, look at this comparison of Presidential performances.  Apparently your ‘job creators’ make a lot more jobs when their taxes are higher.  Bill Clinton.  Now THAT was a President.  Rising incomes, 23 million new jobs, budget surpluses, and the top tax rate was nearly 40%.

He paused a moment and continued an earlier thought:  “No, these new Grover Norquist Republicans don’t care about creating jobs.  They don’t really care about the deficit.  I don’t even think they care about paying less taxes per se.  Their overriding goal is to starve the government of revenue, so that they have an excuse to destroy the things they’ve always hated – that I used to hate myself – Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid.  Here – check out these two graphs, that just came in from the CBO.”  (We had started to grow accustomed to the low gravity in Fact World – it was like walking on the moon – and we must have cut quite a figure as we quickly  bounced a few hundred feet over to this next graphic.)

“That one on the bottom, that shows how the deficit will continue to grow if we extend the Bush Tax Cuts.  Which the GOP is insisting on.  Long story short, it’ll be a real crisis down the road.  Whereas if Congress just allows them to expire – if Congress does nothing – look at the top chart – the deficit VANISHES in five years.  We knew the Bush Tax Cuts were a major driver of the deficit, but we didn’t know HOW major till now.  And these Republicans want us to think they care about the debt?  Like I said, they just want to strangle what they call ‘entitlements.’  The lifeline, the contract our nation has with its elderly, its poor, with all of us.”

“You’ve changed your mind about a lot of things since you died, haven’t you, Mr. President?”  I pointed out.

“Yes, um… what was your name again young man?”

“Sancho.  Sancho Panza.”

His eyes widened.  “Sancho Panza?  Did I grant you amnesty?”

“Yes, sir, I believe so, and thanks for that.”

“Oh, but you’re right, I was so wrong about economic policy – trickle-down theory, it really IS ‘voodoo economics.’  I started this great nation on the road to fiscal disaster it’s on now, and that’s why I’m stuck here – I don’t know how long – to help fix things and atone.  Behold, my hall of shame…”  He gestured toward an imposing series of five graphs.  “This here shows how my policies changed the US from the largest creditor nation to the largest debtor nation in just a few years, and it’s just kept getting worse…”

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“…And here we see how working people’s share of the benefits from increased productivity began to plummet on my watch…”

“…Of course, look at how the very rich started getting insanely richer under my policies, another trend that hasn’t stopped…”

“…And meanwhile regular working people had to start spending more and more of their savings just to get by, until now there’s basically no more savings left…”

“…This one makes me really sad – the flip side of the last one – it shows total household debt as percentage of GDP…”

As he gazed at that last chart he grew silent and it seemed that tears welled in his eyes.  Finally he continued, “But you fellas wanted to know about Job Creators, right?  What the government can do to get these mythical creatures doing their magic again.  Number one, don’t even listen to these snake-oil salesmen in today’s GOP, whose solution is ALWAYS to cut taxes more on the wealthy.  No, we need to RAISE taxes on those who can afford it, those who have been making out like bandits since I was in charge.  And we need REAL stimulus to get our economy going from the bottom up, get some demand started, then you’ll see the jobs come back.  Here, I’ve got something for you, Sancho…”

Handing me a thick manila folder, he continued,  “Hold onto this.  There’s a couple of important studies in here that I want you to read, and most importantly David Kay Johnston’s masterful article  ‘The Failed Experiment.’  Now you two use your brains, don’t be sheep, and if you want change in this country, YOU figure out how to make it happen.”  Then he suddenly twirled his necktie in a circle, and with a flash of light Don and I were back at home sitting in the living room.

*

“Dude,”  Don finally managed.  “I just had the craziest dream.”

I looked down at the manila folder in my hand.  “It wasn’t a dream, Don.  I didn’t have this before … before Ronald Reagan handed it to me just now.”  We stared at each other, dumbfounded.

On the TV screen Sean Hannity was leaning forward to Paul Ryan, making a concern face – “And what about the Job Creators, Congressman – what are they going to need now?”

The remote was sitting near Don.  “Turn that shit off!” I barked.  And he did.

*

Bibliography (thanx to my new research assistant “anonster.”)

  1. The Republican Job-Creators Myth
  2. The Matthew Effect and Federal Taxation
  3. Businesses Do Not Create Jobs.
  4. Tax Cuts Are Theft!
  5. Reagan Revolution Home to Roost – In Charts.
  6. Our Future:  Making it in America
  7. Wealthy Remain Cautious in Spending and Risk-Taking.
  8. Tax Cuts For the Rich Create Jobs – Outside the U. S.
  9. “The Failed Experiment” by David Cay Johnston
You can also see Lib OC blogger Claudio Gallegos lurking in the background, be left the scuffling to Spaulding and Jeff LeTourneau, which was quite the display of restraint given his past shenanigans at public functions, such as his infamous meltdown at the NUFF Forum in Fullerton a few months ago


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist in Orange County. Performs regularly with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem, and at regular concerts at the Huntington Beach Central Library.