Friday, October 23, 2009

From The "Having Your Cake and Eating It Too" Department

It never ceases to amaze me how our elected representatives can rationalize away even the most blinding glimpses of idiotic economic logic.

Case in point occurs in a story reported in the St. Paul Pioneer Press this week titled "A rare condition in Minnesota - a bipartisan agreement. [Click here]"

What caused this miracle of cooperation? -- the move by the Senate Democrats to approve a $40 billion fee on medical device makers over the next ten years.

According to the pioneer press, fourteen Democratic senators sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and other top Democrats recently, including our own Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, urging them to moderate the levy [on medical devices], which they said will "threaten the existence of some manufacturers" and cause "significant job reductions" for those that remain."

"The issue here is that these are very good jobs in our state and in our country," Klobuchar said in an interview with the Pioneer Press, acknowledging that she is among a group of "strange bedfellows" rallying around the industry. "You want to be very careful when you start assessing taxes on an industry like this."

Really? Does the economic principle that excessive taxes "threaten the existence of some manufacturers" and cause "significant job reductions" for those that remain only apply to medical device manufacturers? Is that principle somehow suspended when we tax other industries and their employees?

Democrat or Republican, legislators can't have it both ways. Either excessive taxation is bad for business or it is not. Either it puts businesses at risk or it doesn't. It threatens people's livelihood or it doesn't. The principles of economics, specifically the impact of excessive taxation, can't be suspended on a whim any more than one can repeal the law a gravity to combat obesity.

And while conservative Republicans will shake their heads at obvious irony of the irony-deaf Klobuchar, let us not forget the "interest-group liberalism" [Click here ] inherent in the "Job Creation through Entrepreneurship Act," which included Eric Paulsen's amendment ensuring benefits for veterans were attached to a bill that also included specific government largess for women, Native Americans and a new grant program for Small Business Development Centers. Seems that "stimulus" is okay when it stimulates the right people.

When elected officials get to have their cake and eat it too, only the government gets fat.

Craig Westover is a Senior Policy Fellow at the Minnesota Free Market Institute