The 2012 election is shaping up to be about putting Americans back to work as unemployment is high and has remained so since the financial crisis and the onset of the recession. Voters have indicated that jobs and job creation are the most important issues when they are deciding who to vote for.
Some Republicans are even pointing to job creation numbers in key battleground states with GOP governors, hoping that voters will use that as proof that Romney should be handed the keys to the nation’s economy. It’s a tricky game, but conservatives must not be too quick to credit politicians, rather than entrepreneurs, for actually creating jobs.
In his recent recall election, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker boasted about his ability to help create jobs and laid out a plan for economic success while pointing to his state’s declining unemployment rate under his watch.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, still rumored to be one of Mitt Romney’s vice presidential considerations, has recently bragged about the Garden State creating 25 percent of all private sector jobs in May.
While politicians can create conditions which foster job creation by decreasing the burden of taxes and regulation, politicians themselves are not responsible for the creation of jobs. To directly credit them for jobs created under their watch is to fall into a major fallacy of the Left: the idea that proper government directing and central planning of the economy can lead to better outcomes than an unencumbered free-market.
Conservatives of all stripes including libertarian John Stossel and neoconservative Marco Rubio agree that entrepreneurs, rather than politicians, create jobs. To say that politicians have created jobs, seeks to undermine the hard work, sacrifice, and risk-taking of the entrepreneurs who do create jobs.
Both Christie and Walker deserve credit for taking politically difficult stands against public sector unions. These unions have evolved from collections of workers seeking to bargain more effectively to powerful special interests, and the cost of benefits due to them, especially in retirement, are a huge burden upon the private sectors of many states.
At times, however, Republicans have confused being pro-free market with being pro-business, and seeking job growth by handing out tax breaks and subsidies to politically connected firms. Such projects are no less detrimental to our economy when they are implemented by Republicans than by Democrats.
Conservatives should be encouraged that Scott Walker’s jobs plan starts with the line, “We must lower the heavy tax burden that prevents businesses from investing in facilities and payrolls” rather than suggesting specific growth plans or industry-specific tax breaks which attempt to pick winners and losers. This dedication to fiscal conservatism has been a winning formula in Wisconsin, both economically and politically.
Entrepreneurs in Wisconsin and New Jersey have been able to create jobs in part thanks to Governors Christie and Walker removing some of the burden of government. Let’s give credit to the entrepreneurs for creating the jobs, and the Governors for getting out of their way.