Last Thursday, President Obama unveiled his new proposals to spur the economy and, hopefully, jobs in our nation. In doing so, he finally got one thing right; he acknowledged that businesses will drive the job growth in our country, not the government.
I also like the unemployment proposal that copies Georgia and North Carolina's, wherein businesses can hire the unemployed who will continue to receive up to eight weeks of unemployment benefits while training for a new position. This allows the business to be subsidized for payroll costs during the initial training period, when the employee is normally unproductive.
But I still believe that the president just does not understand the problem with our economy and what is hindering businesses from hiring in the first place. Small businesses create about two-thirds of the net new jobs in our economy and account for more than half of the private-sector work force. Research done by the National Federation of Independent Business shows small business optimism is in recession-level territory, and last Thursday's speech gave business owners little encouragement and even less reason to go out and hire new employees.
What we are seeing instead is another veiled attempt at yet another failed stimulus plan. All of the ingredients in the first two plans put forth by the Democrats and the president are in this plan. President Obama is proposing another $445 billion stimulus that, in the end, will be another Band-Aid approach to creating jobs. The bottom line is that government cannot spend its way out of a recession.
His other approach of offering tax incentives to businesses to hire has some merit. However, these are short term in nature and may not be enough to motivate a business owner to hire in the first place. Also, they were tried last year and failed to create job growth. The president offers a carrot to the business owner while at the same time holding a club behind his back, saying that he may have to raise taxes to pay for the plan. This uncertainty, combined with his past administration's job-killing measures such as "Obamacare" and a host of other regulations passed while the Democrats controlled Congress, just doesn't leave the business owner with a warm and fuzzy feeling about long-term planning.
Small business owners simply cannot plan with confidence in this tax and regulatory environment. If there are not customers out there to increase revenues and the employer does not have a long-term view that the cost of a new employee will be less that the revenues generated, they will not hire a new employee merely to save a few thousand dollars in payroll taxes.
We need concrete long-term solutions to give business owners a long-term perspective and incentive to grow their businesses and hire new employees. Current tax policies have the Bush-era tax cuts expiring at the end of 2012 while the Obama health care regulations and tax penalties start hitting in 2013 and 2014.
The U.S. has the second-highest corporate tax rate in the world. A tidal wave of new regulations continues to come down from Washington. More than 4,000 new regulations are in the pipeline with no sign that the pace will let up. Small business owners had hoped to hear something new and encouraging from the president last week, but instead got more of the same. A mixed bag of temporary tax fixes and an ill-advised stimulus do little to address the problems facing small businesses, the economic engine of America's economy.
Obama and the Democrats simply don't get it.
Doug Hoffman is a certified public accountant, a business owner and a two-time congressional candidate. He lives in Lake Placid.