Mr. President: Thursday you will deliver one of the most important speeches of your presidency. Much of what you have been doing lately has not been working, in a manner of speaking, so perhaps you are ready for a little advice.
You know that if you want to get re-elected, the economy needs to improve. You cannot simply blame George W. Bush or the congressional Republicans for the problem. Investment must grow, and unemployment must come down. If not, you will take the blame. The solution to this is very simple: Stop talking - period. I’m serious. Go up to Capitol Hill, stand in front of the joint session, crack that winning smile and say nothing. And tell your prolix-driven spokesmen to say nothing until the election.
In foreign policy, you effectively have adopted the Obama Doctrine to lead from behind. Do the same in domestic policy. Stop trying to front-door or back-door a tax increase and simply be quiet for 30 days, 60 days, forever. The markets are not responding and business is not investing because of the uncertainty caused by your continuous comments on taxes. It is not about uncertainty over the debt, uncertainty over foreign affairs or uncertainty over energy prices - it is uncertainty over your approach to increasing taxes. The Republicans are trying to help you. Take their help. Stop - do not say another word. Shush! Stop your huge communications apparatus from “communicating.”
You see, your problem, oddly, is that you have a speech impediment. You keep using the wrong words. Your political vocabulary is stymied by words that will prolong the recession and the decline of the United States. Your political lexicon is limited to job-killing words like these:
- Fairness: Taxing away more private income and profits for new social-engineering schemes that often hurt the economy and the poor.
- Balance: Tying cuts in public spending to new “revenue” (read “tax”) increases.
- Jobs program: Public spending on “infrastructure” (read pork-barrel projects) that will never improve American competitiveness. You’ve already spent a trillion dollars on public-works “stimulus,” and it didn’t work.
- Clean energy and green jobs: Public investment in picking winners in energy and environmental projects, such as failing solar, ethanol and wind-power projects, which amount to a green, clean jobs-killing machine.
- Health care jobs: Millions of new jobs you and then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised would result from Obamacare.
- Dysfunctional: Tiresome, as in the nature of democratic debate that you, Nancy and your advisers avoid because you already have all the answers.
- Failed policies: Read “Bush policies,” although your leadership of the past two years has set back America far more than the eight years of the Bush administration.
What you fail to understand and use are words like “trust” (as in trust entrepreneurs and the American free-market system to develop solutions to complex problems and competitive dilemmas far more quickly and effectively than government bureaucrats, who would be entrepreneurs if they were smart and courageous enough). No, you do not trust the market and the American people to do the right thing, and so you want to transfer investment money to the government through more spending and taxes so that you and your team - who have never really built a business, made a payroll or, actually, created one single real job - can tell us all how to do it.
So, my advice is this: Relax. Go back to the Vineyard. Have a party. Watch football. Serve iced tea - decaf. You will be astounded at how fast the markets recover and unemployment comes down. There will be more jobs, more growth and more “fairness” than you can possibly imagine - it will be a workers’ paradise. There is an old political saying in Washington that is popular among old-timers who understand the economy, have run businesses, have met payrolls, delegate and trust the system to work: “Don’t just do something, stand there.” I know it makes no sense, but try it. It’s how the American economic system actually works.
Grady Means was an assistant to Vice President Nelson Rockefeller.