In a recent editorial, the Wall Street Journal compared POTUS to the Seinfeld character, George Costanza.
(Personally, I would have gone with ‘President Alfred E. Neuman’)
In a 1994 “Seinfeld” episode, George realizes that “every decision that I have ever made in my entire life has been wrong. My life is the complete opposite of everything I want it to be.” Jerry replies: “If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.”
So Costanza approaches a gorgeous woman in the coffee shop and announces, “My name is George. I’m unemployed and I live with my parents.” To his surprise, she’s interested. He lands a job with the Yankees after insulting George Steinbrenner.
Maybe President Obama ought to take Jerry’s advice too. That’s our reading of a striking new economic study that examines Congress’s decision to zero out extra unemployment benefits last year.
The authors find that this abrupt policy shift created some 1.8 million jobs, or slightly more than three of five net positions filled in 2014. The cuts also pulled a million workers who dropped out of the labor force back into the workplace. This reality happens to be the opposite of what Mr. Obama and other liberal sachems predicted….
Paying people not to work means they have less incentive to get on a payroll. More generous benefits also discourage businesses from hiring. Since benefits raise the price at which people are willing to search for work, employers must pay above-market wages in the more generous regions, and respond by creating jobs elsewhere or not at all. More jobs draw more people back into the labor force, in a virtuous cycle….
Mr. Obama is now taking credit for 2014’s job gains that his policies inhibited, much as he is for the boom in oil and gas drilling that his Administration resisted. Thus comes the opportunity for a late-term “Seinfeld” economic epiphany. Imagine the possibilities if the President realized that everything he thought about economics is wrong.
A President Costanza would cut the tax rate on capital, not raise it; reduce the incentives to go on disability, not increase them; and reduce regulatory costs on business, not add to them. Whatever economic instincts you have, Mr. President, do the opposite.