The Democrats decoupled from business—and lost the election.
Calvin Coolidge once said, “The chief business of the American people is business.” The Democrats just lost America because they forgot that.
On second thought, you can’t forget what you never knew. The Democrats running things the past two years proved they have no clue about the business of business. In their world, the real world of the private economy is an abstraction, a political figment.
Exhibit A: Along the road to ObamaCare, the party’s planners inserted into the bill the now- famous 1099 provision, requiring businesses to do an IRS report for any transaction over $600 annually. No member of Congress, White House staffer or party flunky thought to say, “Oh, wow, this 1099 requirement will crush people running their own businesses. Are we sure we want to do this?” Yes, and that 1099 fiasco is a metaphor now for the modern Democratic Party.
Exhibit B: The Obama ban on offshore oil drilling. It floated out of the White House, Energy Department and EPA without anyone thinking: “Whoa, this is going to kill hundreds of working-class guys and their families.”
In recent days, both President Obama and Speaker-to-go Nancy Pelosi have said that the message of the voters in the election was that they wanted jobs. To be sure.
President Coolidge was more eloquent on this truth. The American people “are profoundly concerned with producing, buying, selling, investing and prospering in the world. The great majority of people will always find these are moving impulses of our life.”
But much of what this Democratic Congress did, or tried to do, was like throwing Molotov cocktails at business. It began in early 2009 with the cap-and-trade climate bill. The country was going to have to chow down its provisions no matter how many jobs got lost in Ohio, West Virginia, Michigan and other coal-using states. The bill portended so much damage to businesses in these states that some of the Senate’s most liberal members had to beg off supporting it.
At his news conference last week, Mr. Obama still wouldn’t rule out the EPA’s impending “carbon finding” to regulate emissions, another Freddy Krueger nightmare for the average business.
The air is filling now with suggestions of what the Democrats and Mr. Obama need to do. Always mentioned is that the president needs to repair his bad relations with “business.” But this is noted as just one item on the post-election to-do list: adjust the message, go to church more, reconnect with business, put up the storm windows.
The party’s decoupling from vast swaths of America at work didn’t start with Barack Obama. Al Gore and John Kerry ran hard against the depredations of the insurance, pharmaceutical and oil industries. The post-modern Democrats, starting at the top, convey the impression that the average company consists entirely of three guys in spats, silk vests and top hats, like the little character on the Monopoly cards, who deserve to be indicted or monitored.
And so any argument that the top marginal tax rate hits sole proprietorships and the like blows right by them. The “rich” gotta pay. They do pay, stop hiring and then they send money to American Crossroads to unelect Democrats.
Years ago the Democrats’ anti-business populism didn’t matter much because most people doing politics, including the populists, took for granted that politics included staying connected to local businesses. No more. Most Democrats are driving right past the Mom-and-Pop economy to public union headquarters. The party’s candidates are like brides of Dracula, locked forever in an embrace with infusions of public union political money (more than $170 million in this election).
As to the future, look at a map done by the National Conference of State Legislatures showing state-level party control now. The southeastern states, one of the most economically vibrant regions of the country, is wholly red. North Carolina has its first Republican senate since 1870. What’s still blue on this map suggests the Democratic Party is collapsing into mostly urban, public sector redoubts—Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Boston, Chicago.
One might argue that what the post-November 2010 Democrats need is their own tea party reform movement. Problem is, they just had their version—the Soros-MoveOn-Daily Kos activists who threw over the Clintons and put the party firmly in the hands of the progressive House chairmen who stopped thinking about the private sector 35 years ago.
Many activist Democrats don’t want their party to do business with business until the terms of engagement change. They think once the ObamaCare entitlement flows through the veins of the private sector, its workers also will be the party’s brides. What’s left of the private “impulses of our life” to create industries will be sopped up with permanent public subsidies to alternative-energy entrepreneurs. With luck, this new “low-growth” economy will produce enough tax revenue to keep the party’s watermills going for another generation.
There is an alternative view: The party’s antibusiness compulsions have turned it to rust.
Daniel Henninger, Wall Street Journal
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