I posted an essay yesterday called, “The Choice“. Phil Gramm and Mike Salon have a similar OpEd at the WSJ which contrasts the economic policies of economically succesful states and those which aren’t that successful:
Despite the federal government’s growing economic dominance, individual states still exercise substantial freedom in pursuing their own economic fortune — or misfortune. As a result, the states provide a laboratory for testing various policies.
In this election year, the experience of the states gives us some ability to look at the economic policies of the two presidential candidates in action. If a program is not playing in Peoria, it probably won’t work elsewhere. Americans have voted with their feet by moving to states with greater opportunities, but federal adoption of failed state programs would take away our ability to walk away from bad government.
Growth in jobs, income and population are proof that a state is prospering. But figuring out why one state does well while another struggles requires in-depth analysis. In an effort to explain differences in performance, think tanks have generated state-based economic freedom indices modeled on the World Economic Freedom Index published by The Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation.
There was a similar editorial in the WSJ yesterday which I also blogged about. The Gramm/Salon editorial frames the debate in political terms saying:
Mr. McCain will lower taxes. Mr. Obama will raise them, especially on small businesses. To understand why, you need to know something about the “infamous” top 1% of income tax filers: In order to avoid high corporate tax rates and the double taxation of dividends, small business owners have increasingly filed as individuals rather than corporations. When Democrats talk about soaking the rich, it isn’t the Rockefellers they’re talking about; it’s the companies where most Americans work. Three out of four individual income tax filers in the top 1% are, in fact, small businesses.
In the name of taxing the rich, Mr. Obama would raise the marginal tax rates to over 50% on millions of small businesses that provide 75% of all new jobs in America. Investors and corporations will also pay higher taxes under the Obama program, but, as the Michigan-Ohio-Illinois experience painfully demonstrates, workers ultimately pay for higher taxes in lower wages and fewer jobs.
Mr. Obama would spend all the savings from walking out of Iraq to expand the government. Mr. McCain would reserve all the savings from our success in Iraq to shrink the deficit, as part of a credible and internally consistent program to balance the budget by the end of his first term. Mr. Obama’s program offers no hope, or even a promise, of ever achieving a balanced budget.
Mr. Obama would stimulate the economy by increasing federal spending. Mr. McCain would stimulate the economy by cutting the corporate tax rate. Mr. Obama would expand unionism by denying workers the right to a secret ballot on the decision to form a union, and would dramatically increase the minimum wage. Mr. Obama would also expand the role of government in the economy, and stop reforms in areas like tort abuse.
I didn’t frame it that way because I don’t think McCain or Obama will be able to do all the things they claim to want to do. Congress has a say in this and special interests have a way of co-opting the agenda of the most diligent reformers. However, I do agree with Gramm/Salon that we face a choice:
The states have already tested the McCain and Obama programs, and the results are clear. We now face a national choice to determine if everything that has failed the families of Michigan, Ohio and Illinois will be imposed on a grander scale across the nation. In an appropriate twist of fate, Michigan and Ohio, the two states that have suffered the most from the policies that Mr. Obama proposes, have it within their power not only to reverse their own misfortunes but to spare the nation from a similar fate.
But I put it in somewhat different terms:
The policies that advocate more government are borne of fear. The policies of the free market are borne from optimism. America is not a place that was built on fear. Our choice is clear.