There’s a lot to commend "Being There," the satirical novel by the late Jerzy Kosinski that became an Academy-Award winning movie starring the now equally dead Peter Sellers. It tells the truth about the nation’s obsession with television and other media as well as the poseurs and other idiots who populate the top of the American economic food chain.
In a certain sense, the character of Chance the gardener, marvelously portrayed by Sellers, is the prototype of what some today refer to as “low information voters.” He knows only what he has learned from television which, as the film unfolds, is shown to be precious little. His vapidity is mistaken for wisdom by the rich and powerful, who quickly promote him to the position of presidential advisor and, as the film closes, a potential presidential candidate. All because, as a gardener, he knows that “there will be growth in the spring.”
Chance’s economic illiteracy is on par with the combined knowledge of the best minds in the Obama administration. They’ve had close to six years to figure a way out of the mess they found when the president entered office, but have only managed to make their way deeper into the muck. They don’t realize that “growth” – growth in the economy, growth in the number of people working, growth in the number of new businesses being started – is the only solution to the problems about which the president talked much in his first few months in the White House and which his policies have made worse.
Once he’s gone things should get better. Almost all of the Republicans mentioned as possible presidential candidates, as well as the Democratic front-runner, former U.S. Secretary of State and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, understand the importance of markets and economic growth, at least as they pertain to political longevity. Writing in Monday’s Investors’ Business Daily, renowned economist Dr. Arthur Laffer expresses the hope that a new administration could bring with it a "period of exceptional prosperity.”
"By November 2016,” Laffer wrote, “there won't be a redistributionist politician left in America” after the bipartisan policy failures of both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations finally come home to roost. “Everyone will realize that both economic ignorance and economic wisdom are equal opportunity employers,” he said, predicting the rise of a new generation of Bill Clinton/Jack Kennedy Democrats and Ronald Reagan/Jack Kemp Republicans who understand that lower marginal tax rates and a streamlined tax code incentivize the American people to work harder, try harder and dream bigger dreams like nothing else can.
Laffer predicts the repeal of Obamacare and a tax reform package that will push the U.S. “toward a low-rate, broad-based flat tax to replace our current corporate and personal tax codes” and that closes loopholes enjoyed by the super-rich like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates who, by supporting Democrats like Obama, keep gaming the system to their own benefit while criticizing anyone else who manages to do well as rapacious and not paying their fair share.
A change in tax policy, along with a sound monetary policy, a resumption of truly free trade and “reasonable, considerate and deliberative regulatory reform” will create an environment in which the U.S. economy will “respond magnificently to the challenge” before it, creating jobs and elevating standards of living not just in the U.S. but around the world.
Too many people today believe that everything Barack Obama says, like the utterances of Chance the gardener, is a profound, deep and meaningful expression of great wisdom. His eloquence makes people afraid to challenge him for fear they will lose the debate – even if they are telling the truth. And since the current level of economic illiteracy extends to the so-called “fact checkers” that have claimed for themselves the position of neutral arbiters evaluating for the rest of us the claims of others, they are probably right. They will lose.
The party that puts forward the best growth package is the one that will win the race. America is hungry to get moving again. The parties in Washington have fought to a standstill. They’re engaged in a sort of “phony war,” waiting for something to shake things loose.
A proposal modeled on the Kemp-Roth tax cuts, something revolutionary that its authors do not try to jam into the alphabetic strait-jacket of the CBO, the OMB and the JTC in order to make it work inside the budget act or some other Washington double-speak will carry the day just like Reagan, with the help and advice of Laffer, Dr. Richard Rahn, Jude Wanniski, Kemp, Martin Anderson, Roth, Bob Bartley and the other bright lights of what was then the “supply-side movement” did, if it is bold and courageous. To borrow someone else’s slogan, “the time is now” to get to work putting just such a package together.