WASHINGTON — With the economy having slowed in recent weeks, business leaders and policy makers are growing concerned that the tax increases and government spending cuts set to take effect at year’s end have already begun to cause companies to hold back on hiring and investments. [...]Translated as "Nice economy you got there. It'd be a shame if anything happened to it."
A senior Obama administration official, who requested anonymity when recounting private discussions, said that it was unclear whether uncertainty was affecting corporate decisions, but that chief executives talked about the subject. "Every C.E.O. I talk to" mentions it, the official said. "It's a large part of the buzz."
This isn't to downplay the potential harm to the economy if Congress can't get its shit together. The CBO says the combination of factors all coming together could result in a four percent reduction in economic output. But in the meantime, business leaders are pouring money into the campaign coffers of congressional Republicans whose unwillingness to work with the administration on sane policy is the basic cause of uncertainty. All to game the system to make sure that the cuts fall on the people who can least afford it so they can keep their CEO bonuses.
Here's something big business could do to help to lessen some uncertainty: Stop paying your CEOs those obscene bonuses and put some of that money into hiring people. Or give in on paying a few percentage points more in taxes on the money you make over $250,000 and let the tax fight be over. That'd end uncertainty there and then.
But if we really want to talk uncertainty, how about the "looming financial cliff" for the unemployed, knowing that all federal unemployment insurance programs will expire at the end of December? Or all the unemployed who've already run out of benefits? How about Social Security and Medicare recipients and near-retirees, who keep hearing that those programs are going to be scaled back? How about the teachers and firefighters and police, those who still have jobs, whose employment is always on the hook? How about the millions of public workers who've watched their pensions circle down the drain? Or the millions of homeowners in or nearing foreclosure?
You want uncertainty? Talk to any one of those Americans, then get back to us.