guest commentary by Michael Cook, a political writer for Talk Business (Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Editor's note: Opinions, commentary and other essays posted in this space are wholly the view of the author(s). They may not represent the opinion of the owners of The City Wire.
“Government Doesn’t Create Jobs”
“Arkansas is not a good jobs magnet.”
The above phrases are among the top GOP mythologies parroted often by Republicans, with the first phrase even recited by Mitt Romney in the second presidential debate last fall. The second phrase is more often said by Arkansas Republicans in their desire to cut income taxes with the mistaken belief that Arkansas’ tax rates are keeping companies from locating to our state.
The Republican mythology of “government doesn’t create jobs” is particularly jarring since it’s simply not true. Teachers, police officers, soldiers, fire-fighters are jobs funded by government spending and held by actual people, not mythological creatures.
When spouting the “government doesn’t create jobs” myth, Republicans conveniently overlook the roughly $695 billion a year in military spending that has a significant impact on the U.S. economy.
We feel that economic impact of government job creation here in Arkansas. The Jacksonville Air Force Base is one perfect example and if the base were to close it would economically cripple, if not destroy Jacksonville.
Another example is Belleville Shoe Manufacturing Company, the largest manufacturer of military boots, which has factories in Forrest City and DeWitt. This company would likely not exist if it were not for government spending. Hundreds of Arkansans wouldn’t have jobs without the business.
We could cover dozens of other examples of government creating jobs: new roads, government buildings, NASA, etc.
But to further dispel the top GOP myth one need only look to the Arkansas General Assembly. Numerous Republican state legislators do not have a job, other than being a full-time legislator and other Republican state legislators receive tens of thousands of dollars per year in direct government funds to run their businesses. Government creates jobs for Arkansas Republicans.
The second myth espoused by Arkansas Republicans is that Arkansas is not a good jobs magnet and they believe income and corporate taxes must be cut to attract new companies to our state. Many Arkansas Republicans believe our tax rate is keeping companies from locating here, even though professional economic developers say that is not the case.
Last week, both GOP myths were busted wide-open.
The announcement last week of two companies moving their operations to Arkansas proved that government does create jobs and our state is already a good jobs magnet.
First, the superproject was made possible by government – meaning government is creating jobs.
Last week, Big River Steel announced a $1.1 billion new steel mill in Mississippi County, which would employ 525 people full-time and another 2,000 people to build the mill. The project is coming to Arkansas because our state is putting up $125 million in government funds to help cover start-up costs.
These new jobs would likely not exist unless government stepped in to help. A perfect example of government creating jobs. The State Legislature must first approve the funds and, while legislators will ask relevant questions and raise valid concerns on this project, there is almost no way the funds will not be approved. No one wants to be seen as standing in the way of job creation – even if it is by government.
The other announcement last week was the news that Internet marketer and technology firm Inuvo Inc. is moving its corporate headquarters from New York to Conway and adding 50 new jobs over the next four years.
Arkansas is already a good jobs magnet and the news of Inuvo’s headquarters relocation is a strong piece of evidence in dispelling a GOP myth.
With these companies moving to Arkansas, hopefully Republicans will stop spreading their myths and start believing that government does create jobs and our state is already a jobs magnet.