Jobs as Empty Slogan

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Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO who is now running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, is out with a 30-second TV ad that's likely to get plenty of notice simply for its existence. Fiorina and her two fellow contenders for the GOP nomination to face Barbara Boxer have been almost invisible on TV as the Republican candidates for governor dominate the air.

But Fiorina's ad, while simple, repeats the same error being made by politicians across the spectrum in California. The ad shouts "jobs" as a slogan, without giving an explanation of how the candidate might help create jobs in elected offiice.

In this ad, Fiorina notes that small businesses create jobs, and she's right. By official state estimates, California small businesses employ nearly 8 million people. There are three million small businesses in which family members and owners work but are not counted as employees. 

But she doesn't explain how she will help those businesses. If she's interested in creating jobs, why doesn't she use her money to capitalize small businesses instead of spending it on TV ads that don't say much of anything?

"Jobs" here is simply a word, and a weapon to say that the Democratic incumbent, Barbara Boxer, and presumably her fellow Democrats in Washington have been busy raising your taxes. That's only true if you're as wealthy as Fiorina; the new federal health legislation includes a new 3.8 percent tax on investment income -- income from interest, dividends, annuities, royalties, capital gains and rents -- that applies only to individuals who earn more than $200,000 annually and joint filers who earn more than $250,000, according to the legislation.  It's much more likely that your taxes were cut by Boxer, via the tax cuts in the stimulus package.

Fiorina missed an opportunity to address a rea issue: Small businesses in California have found it harder and harder to get the credit they need to bridge gaps in revenues.

Retail businesses offer the classic example. For many businesses, as much as half of their sales come around Christmas, so they depend on credit to cover bills during the other 10 months, then repay that debut with Christmas sales.

Since the Great Recession began, policymakers in Washington have failed to come up with a policy that can inspire nervous banks to extend credit that small businesses need. If Fiorina had thoughts on how to do that, those would be worthy of an ad.

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