During the 1992 election, Bill Clinton won the U.S. presidential race, in part due to his election slogan: “It’s the economy, stupid.”
The point being that the critical focus of a president (and hence the U.S. government) should be on creating a robust economy, which creates jobs and allows people to enjoy a higher standard of living.
We’re hearing the echo of Clinton’s slogan in the premier’s commitment that she’s focused on jobs and families. Over the next three weeks leading up to the Oct. 3 throne speech she’ll give three major speeches that, hopefully, will outline what exactly she means when she speaks about a “jobs and families agenda.”
For at least the last four decades, however, politicians who talk about job creation and creating a robust economy that supports families have focused on tax cuts, downsizing government, and deregulation to create a “competitive” environment for business. More and more evidence is mounting that this approach simply has not worked. Instead, tax cuts and deregulation have created an environment in which the rich get significantly richer, the middle class either remains stagnant or loses significant ground, and the poor are ill-served by their government (primarily because the government has insufficient revenue to support social programs).
Politicians should accept that now, “it’s disposable income, stupid.” Only when the majority of the population have disposable income will our economy be able to create jobs. But decades of income and corporate tax cuts have forced governments to reduce public services and increase user fees and consumption taxes, forcing people to buy what used to be free.
If the premier is serious about creating jobs and helping families, then in her upcoming speeches she needs to tell us how she’ll improve the disposable income of the majority of British Columbians. This will require her to put forward an agenda that involves more creative thinking than the smaller government and lower tax mantra she’s been espousing recently.
Bob Simpson is the Independent MLA for Cariboo North.