Liars can fig­ure, but fig­ures don’t lie

Busi­ness is ex­pected to boom with the new pres­i­dent

The Washington Times Daily - - EDITORIAL -

Happy news is break­ing out all over, ap­par­ently in ex­pec­ta­tion of a busi­ness-friendly pres­i­dent next year. The Novem­ber read­ing of the small-busi­ness op­ti­mism in­dex of the Na­tional Fed­er­a­tion of In­de­pen­dent Busi­ness, re­leased this week, jumped to 98.4 per­cent from 94.9 per­cent, the great­est surge since 2009.

It’s hardly a co­in­ci­dence that the pre­vi­ous high mark of the In­dex of Small-Busi­ness Op­ti­mism was recorded eight years ago. That read­ing in 2009 was recorded the year that Barack Obama as­sumed of­fice, bring­ing with him great prom­ise that be­came eight years of red tape, Obamacare man­dates and op­pres­sive rules and reg­u­la­tions that would sti­fle any econ­omy.

“This month, we bi­fur­cated the data to mea­sure the re­sults be­fore and af­ter the elec­tion,” NFIB Chief Econ­o­mist Bill Dunkel­berg told Bloomberg News. “The Novem­ber in­dex was ba­si­cally un­changed from Oc­to­ber’s read­ing up to the point of the elec­tion, and then rose dra­mat­i­cally af­ter the re­sults of the elec­tion were known.”

He cred­its the vic­tory of Don­ald Trump over Hil­lary Clin­ton, who would have con­tin­ued Mr. Obama’s anti-busi­ness agenda. Tom Scott, the NFIB’s Cal­i­for­nia di­rec­tor, agrees with un­abashed en­thu­si­asm: “What a dif­fer­ence a day makes.” That red-let­ter day was Nov. 8.

The uptick in the small-busi­ness op­ti­mism in­dex re­flects the views from the small-busi­ness trenches that Jan. 20 will bring the end, not nec­es­sar­ily of an era but at least the end of an eight-year er­ror. The re­flex­ive anti-busi­ness men­tal­ity of Mr. Obama and his ad­min­is­tra­tive-state min­ions will be re­placed by Mr. Trump, whose ad­min­is­tra­tion is likely to be the most busi­ness friendly since the Rea­gan years.

This surge in small-busi­ness op­ti­mism is ex­pected to trickle down to the own­ers of con­ve­nience stores, restau­rants, cloth­ing and ac­ces­sories shops. An ex­cep­tion to this ex­pec­ta­tion, alas, is in Wash­ing­ton, where busi­ness own­ers are con­sid­er­ably less op­ti­mistic than their coun­ter­parts else­where. The District of Columbia Coun­cil con­tin­ues to throt­tle the District econ­omy, and just last week gave pre­lim­i­nary ap­proval of an enor­mous new en­ti­tle­ment, to cost $238 mil­lion a year, man­dat­ing paid leave of up to 11 weeks for a birth or adop­tion, and eight weeks to en­able a res­i­dent to care for an ill fam­ily mem­ber.

The Uni­ver­sal Paid Leave Amend­ment Act would cre­ate a new bu­reau­cracy to ad­min­is­ter the pro­gram, whose bud­get would be larger than that of the city’s De­part­ment of Pub­lic Works and would be paid for with a 0.62 per­cent in­crease in the city pay­roll tax on D.C. em­ploy­ers.

Coun­cil mem­bers hastily ap­proved it de­spite a 10page “fis­cal im­pact state­ment” from Jef­frey S. DeWitt, the city’s chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer, who warned that “[f]unds are not suf­fi­cient in the fis­cal year 2017 through fis­cal year 2020 bud­get and fi­nan­cial plan to im­ple­ment the bill.”

The Wash­ing­ton Post, which rarely meets a half­baked scheme it doesn’t like, nev­er­the­less called the mea­sure “a half-baked scheme” and urged the city’s al­der­men to send it “back to the draw­ing board.”

That in­crease in the pay­roll tax to pay for paid leave would be im­posed in ad­di­tion to the coun­cil’s de­ci­sion in June to raise the min­i­mum wage in the city to $15 an hour by the year 2020.

This con­tempt for re­al­ity is re­flected in the mem­ber­ship of the D.C. Coun­cil, which is made up of lawyers, for­mer fed­eral govern­ment em­ployes and “com­mu­nity ac­tivists,” few of whom have worked in the pri­vate sec­tor, where most of the money is ac­tu­ally earned, and none of whom have ever strug­gled with meet­ing a pay­roll.

Lib­er­als — or “pro­gres­sives,” in this year’s eu­phemism — love jobs, but de­spise em­ploy­ers. Em­ploy­ers can avoid this con­tempt, as many are do­ing, by mov­ing across the Potomac to the more busi­ness-friendly cli­mate in Vir­ginia. That helps no one in the District.

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