Employers will ‘step up’ when Obama stops stepping on them 

President Barack Obama asserted last week that it’s time for companies to “step up” and increase hiring. Specifically he said “the issue here is not uncertainty. The issue is they’ve got to start placing their bets on America” and that “it’s time for companies to step up.”

My own company has been a leader in the construction industry for decades because we hire, fire, promote and respect employees and managers based on their merit. So here are some thoughts from the real world on why we as employers could increase hiring if his administration would simply get out of the way:

One of Obama’s first official acts was to sign a “project labor agreement” executive order giving preference to unionized companies for public construction projects, even though 85 percent of private-sector construction employees choose not to join a union.

The National Labor Relations Board started a fight with aircraft maker Boeing, which began construction on a new production facility in South Carolina where the company envisions fewer strikes by a militant union and a generally favorable business environment.

The government is seeking to block the company’s move, a dangerous precedent that would allow the government to tell businesses what states they can and cannot operate in. This is a direct threat to the employment not only of those thousands of South Carolina workers, but to the entire American work force that will be less desirable for international investors choosing where to place their money.

Frankly, no one is shedding tears for the biggest oil companies, but Democrats on Capitol Hill hope to use public sentiment to single out the industry for repeal of economy-wide tax treatments. A top economist has said repeal of even one of the tax credits in question would directly threaten an estimated 150,000 jobs — just in 2011.

And those jobs won’t come just from Big Oil.

Having failed to pass the DISCLOSE Act, the president is attempting to use his regulatory apparatus to punish those with competing politics.

This effort to “out” political donations by any company that would execute government projects is far more heinous than it sounds; it has rightly been described as a key step in re-introducing the spoils system whereby political opponents are shut out of taxpayer-funded projects and allies are rewarded with larded-up contracts.

Here’s a deal for the president: Employers will “step up” to use the “invisible hand” of the market to create more jobs when we no longer feel strangled by the all-too-visible hand of Uncle Sam.

Brett McMahon is vice president of Miller & Long Concrete Construction and a spokesman for the Halt The Assault campaign.

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Brett McMahon

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