The U.S. economy is sputtering, and it's no secret why: The government is standing in the way of private sector growth.
Second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth was revised down to 1.0%. That means the economy grew at an average rate of 0.7% in the first half. That's pathetic.
Keynesians will say that without government intervention, we wouldn't even have seen that meager advance. But in reality, the government's intrusion into the private sector has stunted growth.
And truly, when you look at the harassment it is suffering, and at the output it is producing, the private sector actually has been remarkably resilient. If only the government would keep out of the way, growth might get onto a decent track during the rest of the year, and at some point people might get their jobs back.
As I discussed last week, there is a precedent for this statement.
When you look at output of the private sector during the 1930s, its most vigorous recovery was in 1939-40. And it was caused not by any good government policies but simply by the end of bad ones. The Republicans won a huge victory in the 1938 mid-term elections, which did not allow them to make policy but was enough to block the endlessly inventive and expensive experiments of the New Deal.
That success could be repeated now.
The private sector is still growing, albeit not very quickly. It expanded 1.9% in the first quarter and 1.4% in the second. In both quarters, government shrank slightly, mostly at the state and local level, making GDP growth even more sluggish than gross private product (GPP) growth.
More importantly, if you consider the handicaps under which the private sector is operating, it becomes clear that the private sector is capable of even more.
Specifically, there are seven things the government could do to jumpstart the U.S. economy by simply getting out of the way of the private sector: