How do we unleash prosperity to bring our nation’s economy back to pre-pandemic levels and beyond? How do we re-create the conditions that allowed for record prosperity and growth prior to the COVID-19 crisis?
In this episode, Linda interviews well-known economist, Stephen (Steve) Moore, as he shares his recommendations for rejuvenating the economy while protecting the health of American citizens. Ready for growth? Listen today!
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Linda: Okay, today I have with me a special guest who is a repeat guest to the podcast. My guest today is Stephen Moore. Steve Moore has served as the Senior Economic Editor at the Wall Street Journal. He was a founder of the Club for Growth. He is a Distinguished Visiting Fellow for the Project for Economic Growth at The Heritage Foundation and I understand he's on a short leave of absence with that right now because he's been so busy working on the economic recovery due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is also a cofounder with Art Laffer, Steve Forbes and Phil Kerpen of the Committee to Unleash Prosperity. And he's an economic contributor to FreedomWorks.
On top of that, I count him as a wonderful long-term friend, and he has been just an integral part of everything I've done with Prosperity 101™, and with the books, workshops, everything that I've done, I'm just so thankful to have Steve as a trusted advisor, co-laborer, and my friend. So today, I welcome thank you for being here today, Steve--
Steve: Hi Linda, great to be with you, and you've been such a force for good in the great state of Wisconsin. Thank you for everything you've done. I love it when the people of Wisconsin, the freedom lovers rise up and protest against abusive government. And that's what you have right now in the state of Wisconsin. We just came out with a report card on the Governors. And, Linda, do you want to take a guess of what grade your Wisconsin government [crosstalk]?
Linda: Well, I have the report card on the Governor's right here. And our governor actually came in the last with a big red-- [crosstalk]
Steve: Well, it was a contest between whether your governor or Governor Wolf of Pennsylvania was the worst governor of America, it was a close call. I think Wolf was slightly worse. But it breaks my heart because Wisconsin has a real work ethic in business and industry. And that is just being sapped from the state by this insane lockdown of the economy in Wisconsin. I can't tell you how many businessmen and women I've talked to in your state who said, “Look, if my governor will not allow us to do business here, these chains on the doors, we're moving. We're leaving Arizona or Tennessee or Texas.” So, you're doing very severe damage, governor, to your state.
Obviously, we all want to keep people safe and we always want to put saving lives first, but this has become outrageous. You've got most of the states open now and then you've got a few sore thumbs, like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New York and-- I'm from Illinois, it's hard--
Steve: By the way, Iowa is up for business. They're doing a great job. The contrast between Iowa and Wisconsin is unbelievable.
Linda: It's unbelievable. It's more than just the Mississippi River there. Yes. You mentioned your governor’s scorecard, so I'd like the listeners to know about this. This is something that you did through the Committee to Unleash Prosperity. Would you like to talk about the governor scorecard?
Steve: Yeah, it's basically grading the governors on how they're reopening their economies in a safe way. Again, as I said before, you have to do it in a safe way to keep your citizens healthy and keep them from-- obviously, the number of deaths down low. But we know now that the vast majority of deaths have been in nursing homes with people over the age of 75. We have to keep that population safe [crosstalk] keeping that population safe. But for younger people, we need to get enterprise going again, we need the businesses flowing. We can't allow our small businesses across the state of Wisconsin or across the country to fail. And that will happen if Wisconsin stays shut.
So, what we did was look at which governors are doing the best job of opening up their states in an effective, smart and strategic way. And what we found is that you had a lot of the southern states like the governors of Georgia and Tennessee and Texas and the great Ron DeSantis of Florida who has done a good job of getting their economy open in a very safe way. You've got some of the states-- I mentioned, Iowa and Nebraska-- somewhat neighboring states of Wisconsin are up and running, doing a fantastic job. They haven't seen a huge increase in death rates or cases. In fact, a very few.
So, what we found was that the southern states, the mountain states, like Utah, Montana, and Idaho are doing a great job. You even have Colorado, which is the one state that has a Democratic governor that has done a fantastic job. But geez, it's so disappointing. You see these new governors in these Midwestern states. Your governor there in Wisconsin and then this governor of Michigan is just awful, awful, awful. And then of course, I mentioned Tom Wolf in Pennsylvania and then you got Jersey’s governor. They are locking down their states, they're impoverishing, Linda.
Linda: They're impoverishing their people.
Steve: Impoverishing their own civil citizens.
Linda: Yes. Well, these things that we think about, as you and I've worked with Prosperity 101™ over the years, we've had this continued desire and effort to help people connect the dots between policy and paychecks. I always say it's connecting boardroom to breakroom, and policy to paychecks. People don't really make that connection. And I do believe that with this pandemic, people are seeing the effects of policy glaringly affecting their paychecks. I am hoping that a good that would come out of this is that people would have a renewed awakening, a renewed awakening of what actually the conditions need to be to allow for prosperity when we're talking at a time in our nation's history where people are attracted to socialist policies, and thinking that the government which really actually has no money until we give it to them. But they misunderstand and think that the government can pay for things and be the nanny of everyone.
This pandemic is really showing that policy makes a difference. As we watch these states open, I think this has long-term effects in how people can learn to see the effect of policy on paychecks, don't you?
Steve: I hope so. I’ve been looking at some of the data on who supports the lockdown, and there's some discouraging news in this. First of all, the group that supports the lockdowns the most are suburban women, their mothers and so the mothers-- [crosstalk]
Linda: Have the fear factor.
Steve: So, that's not too surprising. I think mothers are also the ones who pay the bills of their family and you would think that they would see that there's a real high cost in their families and their communities by not having people working. More disturbing to me, Linda, where you and I have to work harder, frankly, with the millennials. It's really disheartening that the polls show pretty clearly, not all millennials, but a majority of millennials, they put security and safety over freedom. Don’t value freedom, the way that you and I do.
Linda: Benjamin Franklin, I believe it was him who said that, “For those who value security and safety over liberty, deserve none of the above.” [crosstalk] I'm paraphrasing, but it's really true in that when we have this perceived sense of security or safety--
Steve: [crosstalk] Now, I remember, “Is life so dear and peace so sweet, that it can be purchased at the hands of slavery?” Of course, you know the next line, “give me death.” One of the great things about the Prosperity 101™, it puts a high value on freedom and [audio cut]. That’s the reason people come to this great country of ours from all over the world because they value that freedom. And I worry that freedom has taken a real hit here with the abuse of power by governors, by the federal government, in terms of-- I never in my wildest dreams-- would have thought two months ago that we would actually have government shutting down businesses across America?
Steve: [crosstalk] state into their homes, and having [audio cut] prohibiting people from going to religious services. We have seen such a massive increase in the power of government, we need to take those freedoms back now.
Linda: Right. Well, and those are freedoms that were not given to those governors. Those were things that were not constitutionally provided in terms of those governors having that power. So, I applaud these lawsuits and I applaud the things where we're actually looking at the constitutionality of some of these executive orders and the length of these executive orders. We can all understand a need at the beginning of this, to be cautious and mindful and take a conservative cautious route to protect American citizens. But then as the data comes in and we begin to learn more, we need to look at that data and be reasonable.
I saw a great quote, it was in the Committee to Unleash Prosperity hotline email of a couple days ago and you were talking about how the federal judges in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals were ruling about a Kentucky case, where the Kentucky churchgoers were not allowed to have the drive-in church services. While the law may take periodic naps during a pandemic, we will not let it sleep through this one. And I think that's so true. At the beginning of this, people are moving fast, they're trying to, in a sense, put the fire out. We need to take a step back and say where has government overreached, truly hurt this economy, and truly hurt people?
Steve: Well said. I couldn't agree more. And we need to really reexamine-- as Americans, every one of us needs to reexamine the relationship between the individual and government. If government is supposed to represent the people, yet somehow our First Amendment rights and our Second Amendment rights and our Fourth Amendment rights and our Ninth Amendment rights and our Tenth Amendment rights have been just trampled upon. Where are liberals? I'm so disappointed.
You're a hero of mine because it's really gotten tens of thousands of people in Wisconsin around the country to rise up and protest, and to exercise their constitutional right of freedom of assembly and to voice their grievances of government. That's the core of what America is about.
[crosstalk] is about. And yet liberals now, they don't believe in civil liberties anymore. Not [audio cut] them. They think, “Oh, how dare these people take to the streets? How dare they--? Wait, you mean because we have this Coronavirus, we don't have religious freedom anymore? We don't have the right of assembly? We don't have the right of free speech? You can throw people in jail for leaving their house? Governors? I don't know if this is true in Wisconsin, in many states, they're encouraging their neighbors to snitch on their neighbor if they violate the curfew or dare go out to a park with their kids. What are we, it’s the Soviet Union now? I never thought I would see this in America. And we have to say enough is enough.
Let's stop this now. Let’s stop the madness. Let's get back to the prosperity we had just two months ago where we had seven million surplus jobs. We had wages rising, we were the envy of the world. What we have done, Linda, is we've taken an act of nature, which was this terrible virus, and we have created an act of man, which is to destroy our economy, destroy our freedoms, we can recapture those, we must do that. And we must also say never, never, never-- [crosstalk]
Linda: Never again.
Steve: --will we allow the government to shut down our enterprise and our business. One of your fundamental human rights is the right to start a business and to make a living and to feed your family. And we [unintelligible [00:13:43] out right away from people.
Linda: Right. Well, I know in the news this week, there was the story about the salon owner in Texas who defied order and opened her salon and the judge was telling her she was selfish for doing so. And you were talking before about moms. You mentioned that moms are concerned about opening the economy and they often are the ones who are paying the bills or watching the household income and outgo. However, this lady said, it's not selfish to want to feed your children. And this is what's happening all over and people are falling through the cracks and unemployment is at unprecedented rates. And what is the effect on people's health when we go through a depression?
Steve: Hopefully, we're not going to have a Great Depression, but we are going to see unemployment rates. We're close to depression levels, maybe slightly higher. Hopefully, it'll be more temporary. One of the things you and I've talked about over the years is how the left has rewritten history. A lot of coming out of grade school and high school and college, believing that their New Deal with some kind of great success where we through all these government programs at the economy and it made things better, no. It didn’t not make things better, it made things worse.
Donald J. Trump, Members of Congress, Nancy Pelosi, Governors, government spending does not-- Well, that does not stimulate the economy except government itself. But the point, Linda, I cringe to say this, but I'm working on a study now that looks to me, is not definitive yet. It's close, though, that we are now at a situation in 2020 where the government sector of our economy is larger than the private sector. The federal government can only get money if it takes from the states in the first place. How does it-- [crosstalk]
Linda: Right. Yeah, I know, it's crazy.
Steve: --states, the federal government take more money and give back to them. It's absurd. But these are the kinds of non-sequiturs that people in Washington really believe.
Linda: Well, it's not just Washington, it's all throughout the country. And like you mentioned, millennials, like I said before, people think that government can be their nanny, that government can solve their economic problems or any of their problems, really, but it cannot and it was never meant to be in this country.
Steve: But people are suffering the most, by the way. I'm sorry, I'm sick of liberals trying to take the moral high ground here and when you and me and others say, “Hey, let's get businesses up and running, let's get people back to work,” obviously, doing it in a safe and effective way. People should wear masks, people should wear gloves, we should probably have social distancing in the workplace. But the idea that we're going to shut down the very fabric of our nation, which is our economy, is ridiculous. But no, you put greed and you put business and the stock market over people's lives and that is-- first of all, it's preposterous. We're seeing so many lives ruined. Ten times more lives ruined than what would have been ruined by this virus.
Steve: Deprivation. You've seen this. I don't know if it's happening in Milwaukee, but in many towns throughout the North and the Midwest, you're seeing the food trucks, the Salvation Army food trucks with lines a mile long, people never had to depend on charity before. What else can they do when the government deprives them of their ability to make an income and have a job?
Linda: Right. I think back I remember hearing about the Great Depression when people were jumping out of their buildings on Wall Street and the depression and anxiety and all these things. And I know all of these mental health issues have increased during this time too. I mean, there's domestic abuse, child abuse, anxiety, drug dependence, all these different things. And people need to work and they need to be able to have income.
And in our society too, as we've looked at reopening, we have to do so, like you said, safely, but there's other things to consider. Like what needs to be done in New York is not the same thing that needs to be done in Montana, or some of these very rural areas where you have 15 people per square mile versus New York where they're piled on top of each other. And so, what would you say about that? Like how this has impacted the entire nation when there's been different segments where it's truly been hotspots?
Steve: I really do believe that when cooler heads prevail and we look back at this whole episode, maybe one year or two or five years from now, really believe this will be seen as the greatest tragedy and misuse of government power and one of the greatest tragedies in our country’s history. By my calculations, the cost to our society, in terms of the lost wealth and the lost jobs and the lost businesses and the cases of child abuse and depression and isolation and the fact that people lost almost a year of their life because of this, this will go down as one of the greatest mistakes our country ever made.
And what is important for us now is to get out of this as quickly as possible because every day we wait, you're seeing more thousands and thousands of small businessmen and women see that-- It almost brings tears in my eyes because I hear these stories from people who spent their whole life building up their businesses and putting everything they have into it. Politicians don't understand this because they've never built anything, they're all [audio cut] rule-makers. But it's heartbreaking.
I remember one of them said, it's like, “I felt like I lost a child when my [audio cut].” What are we doing here? It is just disgusting and revolting to me the way we have allowed government to trample on our society, we've caused great human misery, where it's going to take a long time to get back to normal because of this very foolish step by government. Look, but we're a great country, we are going to survive, we will get back to normal. But the body bags of the businesses that have failed and once a business sells its assets and closes its doors and puts the plyboard up in front of the door, it can't come back. It's not like Lazarus. It can't be resurrected. There is permanent damage here, but our country is great, we have incredible resilience, we will make a comeback, even--
Linda: We will make a comeback. Even what?
Steve: Even Wisconsin.
Linda: Even Wisconsin, yes.
Steve: Even though you've got one of the worst governors in America who doesn't seem to value enterprise, I don't even really understand his logic here. That somehow, he feels this is good for the state of Wisconsin to destroy businesses, destroy livelihoods, to have pulled out of the great state of Wisconsin. I grew up in Illinois. You had a great, great governor.
Linda: Very business friendly policies were [crosstalk] Wisconsin.
Steve: Oh my gosh, he’s one of my favorites. Rebuilt Wisconsin. Sometimes, voters make mistakes and they voted for this new democratic [crosstalk] go ahead.
Linda: Yeah, I was just going to say that when I first began Prosperity 101™, it was largely due to the fact that our state at that time, this was in 2008, really, at that time, business owners were planning to leave the state if a business-friendly governor was not elected. At that time, that election season 2008 to 2010, there was so much dissatisfaction from business and as I traveled around the state and talked with business owners all over, many had paperwork in place to leave the state if things did not turn in that 2010 election. So basically, they did turn in 2010 and it began a whole new era for our state and these are the types of things that we like to see for the whole nation.
Now, I know you are serving-- just a little piece of trivia for our listeners too, you served when I was Deputy Chief of Staff for Herman Cain’s presidential campaign. It was also a pleasure to work with you on that. And you helped us with our tax policy 999.
Steve: 999 [crosstalk] people still talk about it all the time.
Linda: It would still be great, right. And you have served with President Trump with the Economic Recovery Task Force. Can you tell us what you see is the best things to move this country forward? I know you've really been a proponent of the payroll tax deductions and I'd like you to explain to our listeners why this is so critically important to getting our economy back on track.
Steve: So, there are three priorities that we have to do now and this is part of our Save Our Country coalition of conservative leaders around the country. I know you're involved with what we're doing and appreciate you on this. If people want to find more information about that, just go to the Committee to Unleash Prosperity website and you'll find out what we're doing. But we have three major priorities right now to rebuild the economy.
Number one, end the lockdown, get America up and running again. Nothing else is gonna happen until we get the business. I don't care how many trillion-dollar checks that the federal government writes, how much money the Fed prints. Unless we have people up and working in businesses producing, we're going to destroy our economy. So that's number one [audio cut] happen, and shame on Wisconsin and your governor for not doing that.
Number two, we need to stop the spending. The spending in Washington is in the trillions and trillions and trillions of dollars. We are bankrupting our country. We're mortgaging the future of our kids. Every time we spend more and more money, all it does is take money from the productive people, the people who are working and give it to who aren't working. And you’ve seen in 31 states now, including Wisconsin, workers can get more money by staying unemployed than getting back on the job, how stupid is that?
Linda: Right. Quite a disincentive--[crosstalk]
Steve: You need to do to help the economy grow is-- this is something Steve Forbes and Arthur Laffer and Steve Moore and some many other great economists have endorsed is to suspend the payroll tax for the rest of the year, give every single worker in America a 7.5% pay raise. And every single small businessman and woman a 7.5% reduction in their payroll costs. That way, they can afford to hire more workers and workers have an incentive to get back to work. We should reward work and we should reward business enterprise in this country.
Economics is you learn-- if you read the Prosperity 101™, economics is all about incentives. If you tax something, you get less of it. If you tax something less, you get more of it. If you subsidize something, you get more of it. What are we doing now? We're subsidizing unemployment by paying people to stay out of jobs. We're punishing people for going back to jobs because we've made the jobs so scarce. What we want to do is make work pay by increasing people's take-home paycheck.
Nancy Pelosi, if you are watching this and listening to this, open up the economy, cut the payroll tax. By the way, every minimum wage worker in America would get a 7.5% pay increase out of this.
Linda: That would be fantastic.
Steve: Why would Nancy Pelosi oppose to that?
Linda: Yeah, that would be fantastic. I heard Dr. Laffer talk about farmer A and farmer B. We've talked a lot about how government cannot keep paying for these things. And it seems now, so many people want to have this redistribution of wealth. They want to have things equal, but it really can’t be equal. Could you elaborate that, you know his story, you can tell it better than I? You have farmer A and farmer B.
Steve: Yeah, basically, and they're both producing, if one makes a little less income-- if farmer A makes a little more than farmer B, and you take money from farmer A to help farmer B to create equality, you're going to give an incentive for farmer A to produce less food because you're taking money away from them for having incentive for forever, B to produce less food because you're subsidizing them. And so yeah, you're going to have equality of income, but the equality income is going to be [audio cut] impoverishing our society. And we've got to get back to-- that's why I said, reward work, reward enterprise, reward [unintelligible [00:26:07], reward the good behavior. People say, “Oh, we shouldn't cut the payroll tax, that doesn't help people without jobs.” It's like how stupid are you? That helps people without jobs is by providing them with a job.
Linda: Providing them with a job.
Steve: All we've been doing so far for the last three months is providing money to people who are not working. The economy right now, Linda, are the businesses and the workers that are working.
Steve: All right. I have got to run, but you’re the best. Prosperity 101™ is fantastic. Everybody has to read that, every employer has to get that to their workers, we need it in the libraries. We need it in the stores. We needed in the [audio cut] company so people understand the basis of economics. And Linda, one of the things I loved about what you've done with this when we worked together, people look at it and say, “This is so simple.”
Linda: So simple, right.
Steve: Obvious. The academics, the PhD economists have made economics complicated when the ideas of how to run an economy in an effective way are as old as Adam Smith, and they're very simple. You don't overtax people. You don't overregulate people. You reward them for working. You allow people to start small businesses, and you shrink the government to the size where it's protecting our rights, not taking our rights away from it.
Linda: Yeah, that's perfect. That's great. Now, as we close, could you give a couple reasons for employers as we start to reopen this economy, what's our greatest incentive to talk about these policy issues? Our constitution, all these things we talked about. What's their greatest incentive to make sure they communicate this with their employees?
Steve: Well, so the whole idea of what America is about, we have a public education system in this country so we can have informed voters because we believe voters can make good choices. But if voters and workers are not well educated, and they're not well educated in the public school system today unfortunately, it rewards everyone for an employer on a voluntary basis to give their workers a chance to get educated about how an economy works, how our freedoms work [audio cut] history. They don't even teach American history in school anymore.
So, I think we're filling in the gaps. It should be voluntary, it's not partisan. It's just common sense. It's just good economics, good history, and a good kind of civics training and how to make good citizens make good choices. Thanks, Linda, love you. Keep doing it. I can't wait to till they allow me to come back to Wisconsin. It seems like Wisconsin's [unintelligible [00:28:47] for business, but like you, I think I'm starting to really get cabin fever. I'm ready to get back on the road to-- [crosstalk]
Linda: I can't get wait to get back to DC and see you there in person again. So, thank you so much, Steve. We appreciate it.
Steve: Thank you. Bye, Linda.
Linda: Okay, bye. And for people who want to contact Steve, you can go to committeetounleashprosperity.com.
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