President Obama arrives in Chattanooga today. With Air Force One and an army of staff and Secret Service, his presence will be impressive. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of his record on jobs, economic development, or anything of importance to working Americans right now.
The “new normal” has taken hold in America under Mr. Obama’s watch. That “new normal” is persistently high unemployment, unchecked wasteful spending that has led to unprecedented debt, and the belief that government bureaucracy — not the innovation of Americans — holds the key to our future.
Median household income has fallen five percent since the recession “ended” and Mr. Obama came into office. Gross domestic product growth under Obama was a scant 1.8% in the first quarter of 2013. Add to these statistics the albatross of the Obamacare regulatory labyrinth that has scared businesses into either hiring part-time workers only or none at all. Mr. Obama’s moves and their results force us to pose the question: Does he know what he is doing?
Anyone with a basic understanding of the economic success of our nation’s history knows we achieve greatness when opportunity abounds for all citizens. That said, instead of lamenting the President’s failure of leadership, I want to use this opportunity to give him the benefit of the doubt. I believe Mr. Obama is coming to Tennessee to see exactly what success looks like, first-hand. It is hard to ignore the fact Tennessee has achieved some remarkable success recently — even in the face of the negative headwinds emanating from Washington because of Obamanomics.
Let me attempt to summarize a few of the accolades our state has received thanks to Republican policy-making. Since Governor Bill Haslam took office and Republicans gained legislative majorities, Tennessee is fourth in job creation. The Bureau of Economic Analysis finds Tennessee is No. 1 in the South for GDP in 2012 and No. 1 for personal income growth. The U.S. Commerce Department ranks Tennessee No. 1 in the Southeast in manufacturing job growth for 2012.
In stark contrast to the federal government’s ballooning national debt, Tennessee has the lowest debt per capita of the 50 states. It should be noted this achievement has been attained while taxes were being cut across the board for all Tennesseans. In fact, the Tax Foundation recently cited Tennessee as having the third lowest tax burden in the country.
Companies like Volkswagen and Amazon have come here because of our right-to-work status — ensuring that greedy unions do not gain the upper hand on employees and employers — and also because of our infrastructure and global access, another No. 1 ranking. In fact, Chief Executive magazine routinely ranks Tennessee in the top five for business.
These statistics and others led Barron’s magazine recently to place Tennessee as the third best-run state. Imagine how much Washington could benefit if these conservative Tennessee principles were applied in the federal government’s executive branch?
While you certainly will not hear this from the President, we’re succeeding not because of his liberal policies but in spite of them. While America languishes under his guidance, Republican leaders here are going about the quiet business of growing the economy, passing policies that foster career creation across the state, and providing the opportunity for every individual to succeed on his or her own merits.
Mr. President, I hope you’re taking notes. Tennessee showcases a recipe for broad-based success up and down the economic ladder. This is what America should look like.
Chris Devaney serves as the Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party. He resides in Chattanooga.
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