Monday, February 7, 2011

Obama and the Middle Class

In his speech today before the US Chamber of Commerce, Obama lectured his audience that gains must be shared with the middle class. He points to the eroding take-home income of middle class Americans.

But, there is nothing business can do about the plight of the middle class. That is pretty much determined by Congressionally imposed mandates on businesses. Imagine that you pay an employee $ 40,000 per year and that productivity improves enough to pay that employee $ 50,000 per year. Why wouldn't you do it? Because, in the meantime, Congress has passed a law permitting that employee to sue you for millions of dollars if another employee makes an off-color comment to another employee at the water fountain (or for that matter, off company premises and after doesn't matter under the law). Now the employee isn't worth $ 50,000 to you. Business has to factor in the potential cost of litigation (and, of course, they do). In fact, the litigation threat may be so costly to your business that you may simply terminate the employee, even though, absent the litigation benefits enacted by Congress, you would have been more than happy to pay the employee $ 50,000 (and hire more of them to boot).

Congress has punished the middle class with employer mandates. Congress has made much of the middle class economically toxic to American business. Obama need look no further than into the mirror to see the group that is responsible for damaging the prospects of the American middle class.