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This past summer has been a good one for Hollywood. Ticket sales surpassed last year’s May-August numbers by a healthy $100 million while Americans, as they did in the 1930’s to escape the harsh economic realities of the time, wandered into darkened theaters where, for a couple of hours, they could lose themselves in the Dream Factory’s ritzy, glitzy fantasies and jaw-dropping special effects-laden blockbusters.
But in a twist that is a metaphor for the “Summer of Recovery” that has been touted by President Obama, the number of actual movie goers fell by 2%. The gains at the box office occurred as a result of rising ticket prices and the explosion of 3-D pictures and Imax showings where moviegoers paid a premium to view the film. In fact, there were 11 million fewer tickets sold this year than in 2005.
If you think that sounds like Obamanomics, you win a cookie. The president barnstormed the country this summer touting rising jobs numbers despite the underlying weakness of the labor market that produced few private sector jobs, and employment numbers that included hundreds of thousands of temporary census workers. Unlike moviegoers, however, American workers are unable to lose their troubles in Obama’s fantasies about how much better things are getting.
In recent years, summer for Hollywood has also meant the regurgitation of hit movies from the past in the form of the sequel (many are sequels to sequels). And when you run out of sequels, you can always steal material from comic books or old TV shows. Hence, the biggest grossing movies this summer turned out to be the third incarnation of Toy Story, a sequel to a comic book knock off (Iron Man 2), the umpteenth Shrek sequel, and the third go-around for the teenage vampire love story The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.
Add the TV retread The A-Team, the updating of the Ralph Macchio franchise The Karate Kid, and the truly awful Sex in the City 2 and you begin to get the idea that there hasn’t been a lot of creativity in Hollywood since Howard Hughes found a way around the censors to show as much of Jane Russell in The Outlaw as could be squeezed out of her ill-fitting bodice.
Our president must be channeling his Hollywood friends because when it comes to originality and creativity in trying to get the economy moving again, Barack Obama has decided to produce a sequel to the gargantuan, $787 billion error he made in pushing through his pork-laden “stimulus” bill in February of 2009. His thinking is that if at first you don’t succeed, and you’ve run out of ideas anyway, simply repeat the mistake that made things catastrophically worse in the first place.
We’ve all heard the definition of a crazy man; someone who does the same thing over, and over expecting different results each time. Well, the president may not be certifiable, but one wonders what happened to that Ivy League brain of his when you hear that he is proposing tens of billions of dollars in additional “stimulus” to get the economy off the schneid. And as a kicker, Obama is going to offer a modest $100 billion in tax credits for business over the next decade by extending the expired research tax credit.
That latter idea is intriguing, but a $10 billion a year credit that will hardly affect the real engine of job growth — small businesses — seems a lot like using a garden hose on a three alarm fire. The research tax credit would, according to the Washington Post, “increase and permanently extend research and development tax credits for businesses, rewarding companies that develop new technologies domestically and preserve American jobs.” It’s not enough to make much of a difference to the 8 million Americans who are out of work, but at least it sounds as if the president is doing something.
No word on extending the Bush tax cuts for all despite economists from both sides telling us that raising taxes in 2011 would be suicidal. Also, not a peep on the idea of giving workers a payroll tax holiday which some Republicans have said might be a top priority next year if they take control of Congress.
The president swears that this new tax gambit will not add to the deficit because he is going to close other “loopholes” for business to pay for it. Not only will Congress have the final say on that idea, but do you trust Obama to know the difference between a “loophole” and something valuable? Considering that bunch of rabid Keynesians he has running around the White House with their hair on fire, we should doubt it. These folks view corporate profits as evil, and it shouldn’t surprise us if they take away legitimate deductions in order to pay for their “transformational” scheme.
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