The Spokesman-Review


Smart Bombs: Getting the business

The ability of some people to separate the performance of the economy from the success of business is a puzzler. After eight years of record-setting economic growth in the 1990s, these folks turned to George W. Bush for president because they wanted a leader who was pro-business. The beef with Vice President Al Gore was that he came from an administration that wasn’t suitably supine when it came to regulations, taxes and other issues, even if business was great. Bush fit all the criteria. He was the business executives’ favorite government executive.

When President Bush was first inaugurated, the Dow Jones industrial average was at 10,588. On Tuesday, it was at 8,449. The Dow climbed about 7,000 points during the Clinton presidency. Edward P. Lazear, chairman of Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers (when he wasn’t cave-dwelling), had this take on the Bush economy: “It does look like a great eight years, aside from the last quarter, unfortunately.”

The Washington Post had the real scoop Monday: “The number of jobs in the nation increased by about 2 percent during Bush’s tenure, the most tepid growth over any eight-year span since data collection began seven decades ago. Gross domestic product, a broad measure of economic output, grew at the slowest pace for a period of that length since the Truman administration. And Americans’ incomes grew more slowly than in any presidency since the 1960s, other than that of Bush’s father.”

But, hey, at least he was pro-business.

Never enough. U.S. News and World Report had a recent article that should warm the hearts of those who continually deride Washington state’s supposedly frigid business climate. But it won’t. In fact, they’re still lamenting the defeat of Dino Rossi, who wanted to make the state friendlier to entrepreneurs and small businesses, which brings us back to the article.

U.S. News combined the results of two studies to rank the states when it comes to best places for entrepreneurs. The New State Economy Index and the Small Business Survival Index 2008 considered such factors as taxation, work force productivity, economic growth, energy prices, use of alternative sources, the intensity of high technology, unemployment costs and various regulations. I think we know where this is headed.

Yep, Washington state finished first when averaging the two studies. Among other factors, it helps to have no personal income, capital gains or corporate income taxes. Now if we could only elect some leaders who are pro-business.

Smart Bombs is written by Associate Editor Gary Crooks and appears Wednesdays and Sundays on the Opinion page. Crooks can be reached at or at (509) 459-5026.

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