American Elephants

Another Vote for Economic Growth! by The Elephant's Child

Randal Stephenson is chairman and CEO of AT&T Inc, and the new chairman of the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies. He wrote, in the Wall Street Journal today:

No matter the topic, the debate in Washington often comes down to whether we need more government funding for social programs or less spending to reduce the debt we leave our children. But this win-lose framing completely misses the one thing required to achieve both objectives: robust economic growth.

The simple fact is that if we want to control the deficit, preserve key entitlement programs, educate our children, grow jobs, and offer upward economic mobility for everyone, we have to get our economy growing faster.

To that end, the Business Roundtable, whose member companies generate annual revenues of more than $7 trillion while employing 16 million workers, is embracing an agenda for 2014 centered on one thing—encouraging public policies that will return the U.S. to its full growth potential.

We need four basic elements, he says:  Fiscal stability. Stop stumbling from one fiscal crisis to another. Uncertainty. Nobody can plan. Will U.S. default on its debt? Interest rates? Budget deal is a step in the right direction. Other three elements are 1) Tax reform. 2) Expanded trade. 3) Immigration reform.

A study in American Economic Review shows that a one-percentage point decrease in the average corporate tax rate would result in an increase in real U.S. GDP of between 0.4% — 0.6% within one year.

Today, one our of every five U.S. jobs is supported by international trade. NAFTA has been a dramatic success in our hemisphere.

They support immigration reform with a larger pool of visas for high-skilled workers, and new visa system for lower-skilled workers. I’ll go for that when a goodly percentage of the 91 million workers who have dropped out of the labor participation force. find work. These are people in the working age group, not retired or disabled, but simply working age people who have given up. They do not count as “unemployed” and receive no unemployment compensation.

The “shortage” of people trained in science, technology, engineering and math is largely a myth, and there are far more graduates than openings. I have read that business is reluctant to hire people who have been out of work for some time, on the assumption that if they were qualified they would not be unemployed. This may be true.

Business has little idea how to sort through job applicants, and high-tech companies have devised all sorts of elaborate tests to try to sort out those who will fit in. Anyone who has worked in business has met people who make you wonder how they possibly got hired. Unfortunately they sometimes occupy important positions, but that is true of any large organization, the larger, the worse the problem.

Economic growth is the remedy for poverty, inequality and unemployment. Growth fosters innovation and creativity, and the fuel for economic growth is freedom. Countries that pursue economic freedom get prosperity as a bonus.

According to the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom, just released by the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal, after seven straight years of decline, the U.S. has dropped out of the top 10 most economically free countries.

This Is Why Americans Don’t Trust Their Government by The Elephant's Child

The Federal Bureau of Investigation says that criminal charges in the IRS abuse scandal will not be filed:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation doesn’t plan to file criminal charges over the Internal Revenue Service’s heightened scrutiny of conservative groups, according to law-enforcement officials, a move that likely will only intensify debate over the politically charged scandal.

The officials said investigators didn’t find the kind of political bias or “enemy hunting” that would amount to a violation of criminal law. Instead, what emerged during the probe was evidence of a mismanaged bureaucracy enforcing rules about tax-exemption applications it didn’t understand, according to the law-enforcement officials.

Oh please! This was such obvious malfeasance, deliberate targeting of conservative, Christian and Tea Party groups, who might have been able to raise funds that would interfere with Obama’s reelection, that such a whitewash says more about the FBI than about the IRS.

The president himself at least set the tone, he put William Wilkins in the IRS counsel’s office — which was responsible for developing the guidelines that led to the targeting of the president’s opponents.. Mr. Wilkins met with President Obama just two days before his office handed out the guidelines that IRS agents used to target groups who opposed his reelection. The president met with the head of the IRS workers union just a day later.  IRS then commissioner Doug Shulman was reported to have attended 118 meetings in the White House across the period of IRS abuse. All just a coincidence? They were enforcing rules about applications they didn’t understand?

The IRS did not attack just groups politically opposed to the president, it attacked individuals as well.

Catherine Engelbrecht founded King Street Patriots and True the Vote to monitor and stop voter fraud. She and her husband operate a small manufacturing business outside Huston that employs about 30 people. Her actions involved training citizens to monitor polls on election day. She received 4 rounds of IRS questioning, her business was audited, as was her family’s personal finances. She was also audited by the OSHA, which found minor problems for which she was subjected to $25,000 in fines. Her business was subjected to an unannounced audit by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and explosives.

Obama appointed one of his financial backers to “investigate” the IRS. His contributor says “nothing to see here, just move along.” Treasury Secretary Jack Lew calls the abuse a “fake scandal.”

So the IRS is to be a tool of partisan politics for the foreseeable future. And no one who criticizes the president is safe from harassment and abuse from a federal agency. Did you wonder why many businesses are hesitant about expanding and hiring?

Paul Caron who has faithfully been documenting the revelations about the IRS Scandal, day by day, and this is Day 250.

Congressional probers say FBI director James Comey has refused to provide details about the resources it has devoted to the probe, though such basic information would not interfere with the investigation. Cleta Mitchell, a prominent lawyer who represents several conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status, reports that the FBI hasn’t contacted any of her clients. That’s like investigating a burglary without interviewing the burgled.

Not every scandal is a crime, but if the report is right it means no one will be held accountable in any meaningful way for the misuse of the taxing power of the state. This is why Americans don’t trust government.

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