The U.S. economy added slightly more jobs than expected in February, but the pattern of job creation remains very sluggish and President Obama only has his own policies to blame, according to Heritage Foundation Chief Economist Stephen Moore.
On Friday, the Labor Department announced the economy added 175,000 jobs last month, although the overall unemployment rate ticked up to 6.7 percent. The job numbers beat the expectation of 149,000 new jobs and mark the 48th straight month of positive job numbers but the number of people leaving the labor force remains a major concern and experts like Moore say by now the jobs numbers should be much better.
“The long-term trend now for five years has been very disappointing job growth. We’re at about half the level of job creation that we should be at. The real unemployment rate, when you include people who have given up looking for work or people who are underemployed, is close to eleven percent. Those are really lousy numbers and it’s hard to put any lipstick on this pig,” said Moore.
“We’ve got an economy that’s just not growing fast enough. It’s not creating the jobs we need. We need about 250,000-300,000 jobs a month,” said Moore, noting that jobs across the pay scale remain scarce.
So what is stopping a spurt in hiring? Moore points his finger at Obama administration policies, namely Obamacare and taxes.
“Obamacare is clearly a job-killer and it’s already having an impact. Of course, the Congressional Budget Office said that we could lose 2.5 million jobs. That is a significant negative for employers and for workers. I think that the tax increase I think the tax increase that we had last year is reducing people’s investment in businesses. I think most of the policies in Washington are negative for the economy. If we shifted toward something like a flat tax, it would be huge,” said Moore, who elaborated further on why he thinks a flat tax could provide a massive economic push.
“We need lower tax rates and we need to get rid of double taxation on savings and investment. We need to become one of the lowest tax rate countries, not the highest tax rate country, especially for our businesses. We’re penalizing businesses with our tax code right now. We have the highest corporate tax rate in the world. That is not a policy that is geared toward growth,” said Moore.
Neither party has approached the flat tax legislatively and Republican bills that pass the House rarely get noticed in the Democratically controlled Senate. Moore says many of the GOP ideas are good, but politics prevent much from getting done.
“It’s such a poisonous atmosphere right now, where everything the president is for is bad for the economy. Everything the Republicans are for is probably a benefit to the economy for the most part, except that those can’t get done. The best situation now would be for Washington to do nothing, because the only things the president would allow to get done are things that are negative for jobs,” said Moore.
“The Republicans are kind of in the fetal position right now. They don’t want to do much of anything. The one thing they do want to do is fight against Obamacare, which is certainly a good thing to repeal or correct its worst feature. That’s not enough of an agenda. They have to have a positive solution for growth. They have to be a solutions party,” said Moore.
“When I hear them just being against what Obama’s for, I’m not sure that’s enough to win the elections in 2014 because all of this discussion is in the context of major midterm elections,” said Moore.
Moore says he doesn’t see a single component in the new Obama budget blueprint that he believes will foster stronger job growth. As a result, he says America’s economy will continue to fall further behind.
“We know the formula to do it but we’re not following that formula. That’s why I would say right now, less out of Washington is the best we can hope for,” said Moore.