Until I looked into it, I thought the term “job creators” was minted just this year. In fact, it’s been around at least 20 years:
- As long ago as 1991, Newt Gingrich characterized Democratic opposition to a cut in the capital gains tax in this way: “They hate job creators,” he told a gathering of Senate Republicans, “they’re envious of job creators. They want to punish job creators.” With no apparent sense of irony, Gingrich added this was proof liberals “believe in class warfare.”
- In the debate over the 1993 Clinton budget plan, which aimed to cut the deficit by, among other things, raising the top income tax rate, former Texas Senator Phil Gramm deployed the term. On the eve of the budget plan’s passage, he expressed the hope that the bill would “defy history” and prove that “raising taxes on job creators can promote investment and promote job creation.” Gramm, of course, did not think this was very likely to happen. “Only in Cuba and in North Korea and in Washington, D.C., does anybody believe that today,” he said, “but perhaps the whole world is wrong.”
Another Texan, of course, succeeded Bill Clinton in the White House. President George W. Bush got his chance to cut tax rates for the “job creators,” and he did so. I’m not necessarily claiming cause and effect, but the facts are that from the year 2000 until today, the U.S. officially has lost about 7.5 million jobs. That number probably is closer to 10.5 million; 3 million people have given up looking for work altogether, and they’re no longer counted as part of the available work force.
From another perspective, today’s payrolls include about 131 million people, a figure lower than it was at the beginning of 2000. Since that time, our population has grown by 30 million people. We’re not finding ways to feed those extra mouths and build the jobs base we need as those people eventually enter the work force.
Today, more than 14 million people are unemployed. We have more idle workers than at any time since the Great Depression. Nearly seven people in the labor pool are competing for each job that opens.
Some 23 months after the recession began, we have regained only 17 percent of the jobs lost. At this point in previous recessions, we had restored, on average, 207 percent of the jobs lost.
Clearly, the “job creators” are not doing their job, or if they are, they’re creating jobs in other countries. So, if they can’t make a contribution to the American economy by creating U.S. jobs, they should make a contribution by writing a check, that is, giving up the Bush tax cuts they have benefited from for most of the past decade.
What do you think?