Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen of POLITICO have a funny article on the ideas that people bandy about in private in Washington on how the economy could be made to “boom” (their word).
The site is really pumping it up as the inside dish on what could be done to fix the economy, if only partisanship and gridlock weren’t getting in the way.
VandeHei and Allen write:
Most politicians in the most powerful positions in Washington agree in private that there are a half-dozen or so big things they could and should do that could put a rocket booster on the U.S. economy — but they are too timid to say it in public.
OK. So this is promising. We’re finally going to get the inside dish.
But then when we get to the solutions, all that we get are the most Op-Ed friendly cliches about tax reform, entitlements, and confidence. Literally there’s nothing in there that isn’t said every day by CEOs promising “bold” action to deal with the economy.
- Tax reform: “Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan said long-term commitments to measures such as tax reform and trade would provide a “certainty premium” that would help bring corporate cash off the sidelines.”
- Deep cuts to entitlements: “They will also tell you Medicare, which is on pace to be insolvent in 12 years, is a much, much bigger mess and threat to long-term economic vitality — and much harder to solve. Yes, the rich need to get smaller benefits, but that is almost meaningless in terms of fixing it. Ultimately, many Americans will have to get less generous benefits that start to kick in at an older age — and those changes need to start a decade from now. Otherwise, the maths simply doesn’t work”
- Natural resource investment: “No doubt, there are environmental concerns, especially for drinking water. But this could no doubt transform big swaths of the economy. It’s already creating tons of jobs in Texas and North Dakota — and could be part of a much bigger and broader jobs boom, if managed correctly by business and Washington policymakers.”
- High-skilled immigration: “The one issue where it’s hard to find a single detractor in a position of power is getting more high-skilled immigrants here. There is a simple solution to this that both parties agree on. It’s called the STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) Jobs Act, a confusing-sounding law with a straightforward purpose: Allow at least 55,000 immigrants with science expertise into the country to help innovate.”
Really, where on earth are the bold ideas here that can only be discussed in private? Tax reform, entitlement cuts, oil & gas spending, and more high-skilled immigration are the most publicly talked about ideas from CEOs, Squawk-Box guests, and Simpson & Bowles-types. They’re always presented as being “bi-partisan.”
There are actually some ideas that could help the economy that don’t get talked about. Bailing out underwater homeowners is an idea that a lot of economists favour, but which Obama won’t touch. Actually, pretty much all stimulus is considered “unserious” if proposed. But we don’t get any of that here. Just cliche ideas repackaged as a-political wisdom.