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The White House Dangles a Carrot, but the Private Sector Sees the Big Sticks Coming

Lately, President Obama has tried to assure the American people that he’s working really hard to get our money back from that TARP bailout he’s been using as a revolving slush fund. Nonetheless, since yesterday was a day ending in “y”, it was evidently time for another bailout. Rules are rules, after all.

This time it was $30 billion for loans to small businesses:

“The $30 billion in loan financing would come from money repaid by big banks that got help from the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program…That $30 billion would be used to create the Small Business Lending Fund, separate and distinct from TARP, according to two senior administration officials who outlined the program on condition of anonymity before Obama’s announcement.”

Did you catch that little two-step? Small businesses can get money for lending that comes from TARP but somehow…isn’t TARP. The distinction sounds like nothing more than window dressing, but why hide the truth? Maybe it’s because past TARP recipients (sometimes forced recipients) have been stigmatized and demonized by their association with this seemingly endless bailout fund. Or maybe it’s because businesses have learned an important lesson about TARP: where there’s a carrot, there will be sticks. Big sticks, and if I was a business owner considering an entanglement with TARP, I’d be more than a little wary of getting whacked.

Anyone can see that small businesses have been struggling. But even if President Obama assigned every last penny of TARP to this new TARP-redux for small businesses, he still won’t have addressed the real issue preventing robust private sector growth – the looming impact of smothering new taxes, mandates, regulations, and payoffs for Big Labor. These are some serious sticks that will beat down private enterprise with or without a loan from TARP.

If we continue down this path, the sustainable economic growth and long-term job creation we want simply won’t appear. Instead, we need to provide a commerce-friendly environment of lower taxes, lower debt, and lower spending. Not to mention we need to close down TARP to prevent the White House from using $700 billion of your money to bailout whatever company, industry, or sector it wants.

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