Is either party on the job?

Last month, as I wrote an article about green business, a wicked thought crossed my mind: what if Gov. Walker falls short of his stated goal of creating 250,000 new jobs in four years, and better support of the green economy would have gotten him over the top? Would voters give him the heave-ho for not taking full advantage of every available opportunity to drive economic growth? Or would he be forgiven if the state comes close to that number? With some economists predicting we’ll be in a job-creating funk for years, there are too many examples of political constituencies and/or ideology trumping job creation.
President Obama asked Congress to pass a $477 billion economic growth (don’t say stimulus) plan, including a payroll tax cut, but all politicians need to stop and think about how they are going to look next year if job creation hasn’t been their top priority. The answer is "Not good."

The President himself took a hit when his appointees on the National Labor Relations Board tried to put the kibosh on Boeing‘s plans to build a new plant in South Carolina, a right-to-work state. Unions that back Obama would have preferred those jobs be created in Boeing’s home state of Washington, a union state. Production has begun on the plant, which will assemble Boeing’s Dreamliner line, but a related complaint about labor law violation remains unresolved. The message portends future harassment of companies that dare to locate jobs in politically incorrect places.

Republicans have their own explanations to offer. In Wisconsin, GOP lawmakers have introduced legislation that would criminalize the use of cells derived from human fetal tissue – cells derived from aborted fetuses – even though researchers here and elsewhere have ethically used them to develop vaccines and chase treatments and cures for debilitating diseases. They have also used them for basic research, and when the state is blessed to have one of the foremost research universities in the world, one that transfers its discoveries to the commercial world, you begin to wonder where their heads are. Wisconsin bioscience companies reportedly want to create 25,000 new jobs over the next five years. If this measure passes, good luck with that.

The fingerprints of Wisconsin Right to Life are all over this maneuver, despite the fact that no tissue is bought or sold, just donated, and that something life-giving might actually result from the difficult decision to terminate a pregnancy. No doubt these lawmakers have been, and will continue to be, handsomely rewarded with campaign contributions. But just like the controversy over the use of stem cells derived from human embryos produced at in-vitro fertilization clinics, there are two sides to the moral argument. In the case of stem cells, society has decided in favor of a 5-year-old child with leukemia over a 5-day-old embryo (blastocyst) that will never be implanted in a woman and become life.

And then there is the travesty of patent "reform," which I suspect will be rather underwhelming on the job-creation scale. I admire Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan for starting a dialogue about fixing our finances, but he helped strip language from an earlier version of the legislation that would have prevented Congress from diverting patent office fees for other purposes, which has helped create a commerce-clogging patent backlog. The stated reason had more to do with congressional oversight than ideology, but members of our congressional delegation should be working in the interests of our state.

There are many good ideas that could promote business activity and job creation. Inside these pages is an article about allowing credit unions to lend more to small businesses, but alas, that idea is also meeting political resistance. Campaign contributions aside, both parties have to start beating back their respective bases, or risk the ascension of a third party that splits them down the middle.

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