Tuesday, January 23, 2007

An Excellent Economic State of the Union

Parsing through a dozen or so newspapers and websites this morning, I was stunned not to find a single reference to the very strong economic state of the union. Sure, there’s plenty about global warming, carbon caps, President Bush’s poor polling numbers, Republican opposition to the troop surge in Iraq, and the usual horse-race speculation about Hillary Clinton and the Democratic primary race for presidency. But there’s nothing -- and I mean nothing -- about the excellent economic state of the union.

I did manage to find one article, buried deep in the Wall Street Journal, entitled “Class of ’07 Gets Plenty of Job Offers.” It talked about employers planning to hire 17 percent more graduates this year than they did last year. This happens to top the college-hiring peak of the last economic boom in 2000.

There’s also an interesting op-ed by Deputy Treasury Secretary Bob Kimmet (an old friend with lots of supply-side blood in his veins), who notes the positives of “job churn.” More than 55 million Americans, or four out of every ten workers, left their jobs in 2005. Since there were more than 57 million new hires that same year, this is good news. It also means that new hires exceeded employee separations by an average of 364,000 per month. Per month!

Eat your heart out Lou Dobbs.

The fact is, jobs continue to boom. So do real incomes, productivity, and profits. Economist Michael Darda points out that real wages over the first five years of the Bush expansion are actually growing more rapidly than over the first five years of the Papa Bush/Bill Clinton boom.

Meanwhile, unemployment today is only 4.5 percent. Federal, state, and local tax collections are soaring through the roof. Budget deficits are plunging. Inflation-adjusted GDP is averaging just more than 3 percent. Family wealth stands at a record of slightly more than $54 trillion. Total employment is at a record 146 million.

Stock markets, as you might have noticed, also continue to rise. They have done so, almost without interruption, for four years, on the shoulders of a remarkable surge in business profits -- which itself is a function of the high-tech, knowledge-based product explosion.

These corporate profits, along with our record-setting stock markets, have enriched the more than 100 million investors who are participating in this prosperity. In fact, this America boom is spearheading a global economic surge. While the American free-market model is often derided as “cowboy capitalism,” imitation remains the sincerest form of flattery. And it isn’t just China, India, and Russia who are acquiescing to the worldwide spread of American capitalism. It’s also Eastern Europe and parts of South America. Heck, even the socialists in Old Europe -- like France and Germany -- are getting into the act by reducing individual and corporate tax rates to promote growth.

Note to John Edwards and other modern-day class warriors: The best anti-poverty plan is a growing economy, one that creates jobs and higher middle-class living standards. As free enterprise has been unleashed around the world, government planning once again has been rejected. This is the spirit of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, where he argued almost 250 years ago for free markets, free trade, and a very light touch with respect to taxes and regulations.

Someone should be making the point that if the economy ain’t broke, there’s no need to fix it. Taxing the rich will not make the non-rich rich. Attacking businesses will not produce more jobs and investor-class profits. Imposing trade barriers will not help high-quality, low-cost consumer imports, nor will it promote job-enhancing business exports or help poor nations grow richer.

As for the global-warming alarmists, imposing carbon caps or carbon taxes won’t do anyone any good. On the economic side of things, this will severely depress production and employment. And for what? An estimated global temperature reduction of 4/100ths of 1 degree Fahrenheit?

Government meddling and failed liberal social policies are precisely what we don’t need today.

As President George W. Bush takes the podium tonight for his seventh State of the Union message, his policy of lower marginal tax rates and a general absence of overregulation (with the exception of Sarbox, but including the opposition to carbon caps) has succeeded in nurturing low inflation and entrepreneurial economic growth.

Of course, Bush gets very little credit for this in the mainstream media or in the polls, which is a shame. The truth is, the president has had the economic story basically right for six years. His overall economic record is rather solid.

But the bottom line is the bottom line: As we enter 2007, the economic state of the union is excellent.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.