On Thursday, small business owners from across New Hampshire excoriated the Biden Administration over its handling of the American economy during a roundtable hosted by the Republican National Committee.
Last week, the April jobs report came shockingly short of its projections, adding just over 250,000 new jobs despite projecting nearly a million, while the unemployment rate increased to 6.1 percent. This week, the year-to-year inflation rate spiked to 4.2 percent, its fastest growth since the economic crisis of 2008.
Panelists on the roundtable say they know why.
“If you do not read and look at history, you are bound to repeat it,” said NHGOP Chairman Stephen Stepanek. “What we’re seeing is a scenario with higher spending, with higher taxes and more regulations, we’re looking at going back to where we were during the Carter administration. That’s when we had out-of-control inflation, we had out-of-control interest rates. We had stagnant growth.”
The panelists were quick to advise the White House on how to overcome these economic challenges. They believe that the supplemental covid unemployment insurance is disincentivizing people to work and needs to be ended to get the economy back in shape.
Al Letizio, the owner of a sales and marketing firm in Windham, said the solution was simple: “Stop spending our money to incentivize people to not work for us,” he said.
Steve Goddu, the owner of an advertising agency in Salem, concurred.
“This economy just has to go back to where it was during the Trump Administration. It was doing well. He was letting businesses respond to economic conditions and do what they needed to do,” said Goddu. “We have to stop incentivizing people to stay out of work. It’s not good for them. It’s not good for anybody except maybe the Democrats who want to increase social programs.”
“What we’re seeing now is a situation where the federally enhanced unemployment is actually paying people to stay home, it is competing with employers for that labor, and that’s not the purpose of unemployment. I think we really need to focus on getting back to normal, getting people back to work,” said Stepanek.
At the same time the roundtable was gathered, Governor Chris Sununu was speaking to the New Hampshire Economic Summit, where he announced that he plans to end the supplemental covid unemployment benefits for the state, although he didn’t set a timeline. Sununu confirmed his stance later that day during his weekly COVID-19 presser. “We are definitely looking at the effects of ending the $300 stipend. The federal government wants it to go all the way to September, we’re not going to do that.”
Stepanek called the announcement is a “very exciting step in the right direction.”
NHJournal asked members of the roundtable if they wanted the federal unemployment monies –derisively called “Biden Bucks by some Republicans — simply ended, or would they like to see some of those monies repurposed into a bonus for workers who return to their jobs, as is being considered by some other states.
“We don’t want the federal government getting involved in any more programs, whether they pay people to go back to work or pay people to not go to work,” said Stepanek. “I think we just need the federal government to get out of it and pull all of the additional subsidies that they’re giving to unemployment. It was needed at a certain point in time during the pandemic. It is no longer needed — just stop giving money to people to stay home. I think at that point in time, the situation will rectify itself very quickly.”
Their overall message from New Hampshire businessmen to Biden was a simple one: “Get out of the way.”
“The Biden administration and government think that they have the solution to every problem,” said Goddu. “The problem is caused by government. I want government away from business, to leave us alone. We’ll take care of it.”