The president says that’s the fault of recalcitrant Republicans in Congress. Republicans in Congress say it’s the fault of a president who is hostile to business. But the real reason we are not putting people back to work three long years into the recession is that Washington is afflicted with a totally-bipartisan cluelessness about how to create jobs.
Everywhere I go, I meet entrepreneurs whose ventures either failed or are slowly dying on the vine because of the outrageous delays they suffered in getting patents. Who would invest the huge sums needed to develop a new medical treatment, for example, without at least the promise of exclusivity and a return on their investment that a patent provides? But because of delays stretching up to seven or more years in getting a patent, these startups lost crucial funding opportunities—or in some cases, even went bankrupt—as a result of the backlog of 1.2 million applications now throttling America’s overburdened and underfunded “innovation agency.”
Many people assume that there’s no way American manufacturers can compete with cheap Chinese labor. It’s just basic economics, right? Wrong. It’s the U.S. government’s myopic policy, not China’s lower payroll costs, that make our nation uncompetitive in the all-important solar and other high-tech manufacturing sectors. With manufacturing friendly tax policies and a permanent 20 percent R&D tax credit equal to what other nations offer China’s advantage drops to 1 to 2 percent, and that the U.S. can compete with.
The log jam in patents issuances is not the only impediment to start-up job creation. Although it is certainly a big one. Tax and regulatory burdens on start ups have reached a critical mass in the last 10 years. A fact recognized by President Obama when he signed an Executive order last Tuesday ordering the removal of burdensome regulatory rules on business. Also a problem are the post 9-11 immigration policies that are driving many of the world’s best and brightest scientists and engineers to other countries. But the biggest job killer beside the patent backlog is the systemic destruction of our high tech manufacturing capacity.