The Absent Growth Agenda

By October 19, 2009Economy, Global Warming

The Washington Post’s Robert Samuelson asks the question in his column today, “Who’s going to get the jobs machine going?” Some advocate more stimulus, but the continuing expansion of the federal debt could undermine the economy generally, so others advocate gradual debt reduction.

Samuelson suggests “a middle way” — “to scour government for policies that discourage job creation.

Consider the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent proposal requiring permits for large industrial facilities emitting 25,000 tons of greenhouse gases annually. New plants or expansions would need permits demonstrating they’re using “the best practices and technologies” (whatever they might be) to minimize six greenhouse gases. Permits would be granted on a case-by-case basis; the proposed rule is 416 pages of dense legalese.

How could this promote investment and job creation, except for lawyers and consultants? Government erects many employment obstacles: restrictions on oil and natural gas drilling; unapproved trade agreements; some regulations. But reducing these barriers would require the Obama administration to choose between its professed interest in more jobs and its many other goals — a choice it has so far avoided.

That seems right to us. The Obama Administration has many policies and proposals, but no “growth agenda” to support the long-term competitiveness of the U.S. businesses that create jobs.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • david foster says:

    ” “the best practices and technologies” (whatever they might be) to minimize six greenhouse gases.”

    I’m not a chemical engineer, but as a general matter in product design (and life in general) you can’t minimize or maximize everything at once.

    Imagine a requirement that airplanes be designed to minimize fuel consumption AND takeoff/landing distance AND time enroute for a given distance…all simultaneously.

    Getting your airplane design approved wpuld be largely a matter of how good your regulatory contacts were and how good you were at lobbying.

    Which may be exactly the idea in the case of the proposed regulations.

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