Get out of the way? I don't think so. We don't want a big bureaucratic government, but the times absolutely require ACTIVE government.
Mitt Romney and the trickle-downistas in Congress want you to believe that if government just "gets out of the way," jobs will magically appear out of thin air. Hey presto! They want you to believe in laissez-faire government -- that we should leave the economy alone. That was a fine theory in the 18th and 19th centuries, thank you very much Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations. And it may still have been an OK strategy in the early 20th century. But once globalization and technology made the world flat and interconnected... laissez-faire became obsolete. Why? Because our global economic competitors don't abide by those rules. Those competitor nations are hungry, actively intervening in the so-called "free market," to lure jobs for their citizens. Yet Romney and his Congressional allies desperately cling to the theories espoused by Adam Smith in the 1700s, hoping that we can return to those old days when our economy was isolated, not impacted by our economic competitors.
Almost every state's economic development agency identifies sectors to pursue and the governors offer partnerships, tax incentives, infrastructure and training to lure those sectors and create jobs for their people. The Republicans' dirty little secret is that their governors intervene in the "free market" all the time to poach jobs from other states. They actively pick "winners and losers" every single day. Mitt Romney did it as governor of Massachusetts. I did it in Michigan. We all do.
And that's what kills me about today's dueling speeches. Romney knows that governors don't have the resources to compete against China or India. A state alone can't match the offers of an entire country. The only place states can compete is against other states, using tax incentives to lure businesses from each other. That is stupid national economy policy. It's like moving the chairs around on the deck of the Titanic.
President Bush once told the President of China, Hu Jintao, that what "keeps him up at night" is terrorism. Hu Jintao responded that what keeps him up at night is "creating 25 million jobs a year for my people."
As a nation, we need leaders who will be sleepless over what actions they will take to get jobs here. We need to be restlessly obsessed with creating jobs for America in a global economy. So what keeps me up at night is the fear that people will vote to go back to the policies that got us into this mess. Have we learned nothing? We need national economic policy, and President Obama yesterday articulated one to make us globally competitive with energy, education, infrastructure and innovation. He is moving us forward.
Mitt Romney's trickle-down, laissez-faire, hands-off economic platform is not just stuck in the George W. Bush era, it's firmly planted in Adam Smith's 1700s. His policies are worse than merely "been-there-done-that." Going backwards to those policies would actually sabotage our future.
We've been in this movie before folks, and we know it leads to economic tragedy. Nice thing is, in November, you have the power to choose the way the story ends.
Cross-posted at "The War Room" blog. Follow Jennifer Granholm on Facebook and Twitter and "The War Room" on Facebook and Twitter. "The War Room with Jennifer Granholm" airs weeknights at 9/8c on Current TV.