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After a smoke and mirrors “jobs summit” in Washington on Thursday, President Obama is headed out into the real world today–to Allentown, Pa.–to talk more about jobs, and good for him.
But instead of shutting out those who disagree with him like he did at his Washington gathering, the president needs to let some crashers into the jobs party in Allentown. He might not like what they have to tell him, but Obama needs to hear the voices of America’s small- business men and women.
To be precise, Obama needs to hear the concerns of American businessmen like David Taylor.
Taylor is a leader of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association. In an interview with a Pennsylvania newspaper in anticipation of the president’s visit, Taylor delivered a point-by-point repudiation of the White House and the Democratic Congress’ big-government, big-spending, high-taxing plan for the economy.
Taylor expressed the same concerns I heard this week in a series of “Real Jobs Summits” with small-business people and entrepreneurs in Cincinnati, Ohio and Jackson, Miss.: Out-of-control government spending and bureaucratic red tape in the form of Democratic health, cap-and-trade and big-labor legislation are crippling America’s engines of job creation, our small businesses.
“The government does not create wealth. The government does not create jobs,” Taylor said. “The government’s role is to allow the energy and the initiative of the American people to emerge in the marketplace. That’s where wealth is created. That’s where jobs come from.”
Small businesses create three out of every four jobs in America. And yet, unbelievably, the Obama White House failed to invite the country’s largest representative of small businesses, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, to the Washington jobs summit.
They froze out the Chamber of Commerce as well. The president’s brain trust sees these snubs as payback for political disloyalty. The Chamber and the NFIB have differed with the White House and the Democratic Congress over what’s best for the economy and now they must be punished.
But small-business people in places like Cincinnati, Jackson and Allentown don’t care about White House guest lists and political games. They care about jobs. And they know, from real experience, that higher taxes from cap and trade, more government regulation from Democratic health reform, and more power to the union bosses from card check legislation will kill jobs, not create them.
Time and again, over the past week of meeting with hundreds of entrepreneurs, I’ve heard the same message: Americans who actually create jobs want tax relief in the form of a two-year, 50 percent payroll tax reduction.
Real job creators want an end to the capital gains tax and the death tax, and a reduction in America’s business tax rate, which is the second-highest in the world.
Real job creators understand that out-of-control government spending is crowding out private investment and creating a huge deficit burden for our children and grandchildren.
In short, real job creators are asking for precisely the opposite of what the Obama White House (the administration with the least private sector experience in American history) is offering.
It’s little wonder, then, that these Americans are shut out of White House jobs events.
Obama has a choice to make. He can listen to his political base–the trial lawyers, labor unions and government employees who redistribute wealth rather than create it–or he can listen to American businessmen and women.
To its credit, the White House has dubbed the series of outside-of-Washington jobs meetings kicking off in Allentown today a “listening tour.”
But for the president to listen, America’s job creators have to get a chance to be in the room.
Perhaps they should consider crashing. It’s worked before.
Newt Gingrich is a senior fellow at AEI.
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