President Barack Obama’s economic performance has some bright spots but lacks for help to beleaguered homeowners and philosophical commitment to business growth, two Arizona economists say.
Economists Byron Schlomach of the Goldwater Institute in Phoenix and David Wells of Arizona State University gave their assessments of the Democratic president’s plans in a joint interview for Friday’s Arizona Week.
Schlomach said the president's philosophical and governmental approach, especially the Affordable Care Act, has been stifling to business.
"For the most part, any potential recovery he's slowed down to a great extent with many of his policies, including quite frankly, the ACA, the Affordable Care Act," Schlomach said. "That has demonstrably slowed down business investment. Businesses don't know what they're going to be hit with, they don't know what kind of regulation they're going to have."
Wells agreed that Obama's work on the economy hasn't been as effective as he had hoped, but he cited the health care law as a "monumental achievement."
He said the stimulus plan was a good approach, but it was too small and there weren't enough shovel-ready projects.
"I think the first stimulus he worked on was to moderate the level of decline," Wells said. "In retrospect, it's obvious that the economy was sliding much deeper than he was aware of."
Schlomach said his advice to Obama, if he is reelected, would be to minimize regulation on business.
"If you can't do anything nice for business, don't do nothin' at all," he said.
Wells said a reelected Obama must step up his help for beleaguered homeowners who still face foreclosures and the losses of their homes.
"They have made improvements relative to trying to help refinance homes," he said. "But I think they need to look more carefully to see and make sure that more Americans, especially in Arizona, Nevada and California," get some kind of help.
On other aspects of Obama's economic performance and plan:
Wells said higher taxes for millionaires is a good political idea but won't do much for the federal deficit or debt. Schlomach called it a bad idea that will further stifle business.
The president's regulators, from the Environmental Protection Agency to the National Labor Relations Board, are creating uncertainty and thus slowing economic growth, Schlomach said.
Wells and Schlomach disagreed on the amount of governmental involvement there should be in the economy, with Wells saying the government has an important role, while Schlomach said it should be minimized.
As for the "You didn't build that" comment, Schlomach said individuals do much more to build the economy and contribute to society than a "nebulous collective" referred to by the president. Wells countered that individual initiative matters but so do "lots of different things that contribute to success."
On the Aug. 31 Arizona Week, Schlomach and Wells assessed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s economic plans. See it here.