Yesterday the U.S. Chamber announced its three part plan for encouraging job growth. First, deregulate business (meaning stop financial industry reform legislation). Second, continue the Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy that are scheduled to be eliminated soon. Third, repeal health reform. Their main complaint in the news snippets I heard and read had to do with the uncertainty that has been thrust into the market place because of these three things, and uncertainty, they claimed, is the boogeyman of investment that scares big business and inhibits the creation of new jobs.
Uncertainty about markets is, of course, the bedrock of private enterprise competitiveness. In fact, uncertainty is the bedrock of any form of competition. Consider, for instance, any ball game where rules establish the core structure and limits of the game but uncertainty about what the other team will do is what makes competition possible. What is important is that the rules be known and understood. When it comes to major reforms of the financial and health care industries, that will take a while, particularly since these industries have become expert at manipulating the existing set of arcane rules to their benefit with little regard for the welfare of the nation as a whole. Now they have to work at figuring out how to do the same with a new set of rules that are not yet promulgated, only legislatively authorized in general terms. It would be so much easier for them to just keep things the way they are.
What kind of uncertainty is bothering the Chamber’s big business clients the most? They way I figure it, they are most uncertain about how and where to find the loopholes and opportunities for a quick killing in a newly regulated financial industry, a more competitive and efficient health care system, and a way for wealthier people to legally avoid paying taxes. They do not want to change the way they do business, and they may not know how, so the trick is to figure out ways to weasel through new rules with as little change as possible. What a pain! Why not just leave well enough alone?
The U.S. Chamber is supposed to be an organization promoting the health of a strong private enterprise economy, with an emphasis on smaller businesses, local communities, and open, fair competition. They can do better than mouthing the same old ‘no regulation is good regulation’ nonsense that only benefits would be monopolists and oligarchs.