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November 1 2012

Obama Solution to Economic Stagnation: Hey, Let's Have a Secretary of Business

Charlotte Hays

You know what this country really doesn't need?

A Secretary of Business.

If President Obama is reelected, however, we might get one. From the  Washington Wire:

President Barack Obama signaled if he wins a second term he would appoint a Secretary of Business to oversee newly-consolidated government agencies, including the Small Business Administration, and predicted “a war” will break out within the Republican Party after the Nov. 6 election.

“We should have one Secretary of Business, instead of nine different departments that are dealing with things like giving loans to SBA or helping companies with exports,” Mr. Obama said in an interview that aired Monday on MSNBC. “There should be a one-stop shop.”

This plan, of course, would further centralize power in a Washington that is already too big to function well. It would put more authority in the hands of bureaucrats and further hamstring business. It is one of the worst ideas put forward in a long time. I guess if I were cynical, I'd ask, "So you haven't killed enough jobs already, Mr. President?"

But I can’t say the idea for a Secretary of Business comes as much of a surprise. In fact, a foreshadowing of the president's dream of further controlling the private sector can be found in his famous “You didn’t built it” speech in Roanoke:

[W]hat happened in the auto industry I want to see happen in manufacturing all across this country -- right here in Virginia.  (Applause.)  We’ve invested in advanced manufacturing because we want to beat out countries like Germany and China.  I want the great inventions to be done here, and I want great new products created here -- which is why -- and this is another contrast -- whereas my opponent, in his private business, was investing in companies that The Washington Post calls “pioneers" of outsourcing, I believe in insourcing.  (Applause.)  

I want to stop giving tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas.  Let’s give those tax breaks that are investing right here in Virginia -- (applause) -- right here in the United States of America, hiring American workers to make American products to sell around the world.  That’s why I’m running for President of the United States.  (Applause.)

So what kinds of policies do you think a new Secretary of Business will impose on business?

James Pethokoukis explains why this is profoundly depressing:

This is really how President Obama sees the private sector. It’s just one more interest group in need of care and feeding by Big Government. And since we already have a Commerce Department, let’s just rebrand that sucker and subject it to a little technocratic tinkering. Given this administration’s love of industrial policy — picking winners and losers — Obama might as call the position Secretary of Crony Capitalists. Give business a one-stop shop where it can lobby for government subsidies and a regulatory advantage over its less politically savvy competitors.

The Secretary of Business proposal prompted the Romney campaign to cut a new ad. It says that President Obama’s “solution to everything is to add another bureaucrat.”

Sometimes, apparently, just adding another bureaucrat is enough to satisfy POTUS. Hot Air has noticed that President Obama adds a bureaucracy here or blue ribbon panel there and then just forgets about it (see: Bowles Simpson). But he might remember this one, and a Secretary of Business would be anything but good for business.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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