Leslie: Some news is good
April 23, 2004
The letters still flowing in from businesses exemplify the urgent need for workers’ comp reform. Just today I heard from a Sacramento man who employs 50-60 people, all of whom earn high wages and receive health care and other benefits. This low-voltage electrical contractor has been in business 15 years, but faces near certain closure because of three workers comp claims. All are either fraudulent or likely exacerbated by the employees’ off-duty activities.
He says three things will save his business: Comprehensive workers’ comp reform, an upswing in the economy or a combination of the two.
Otherwise, his company won’t survive.
On the first issue, the sticking point is insurers rates. Sen.
Richard Barton wants to cap what insurers can charge. Price controls, however, didn’t work in ancient Rome, they didn’t work when Richard Nikon tried them, and they won’t work now. Still, the governor is confident we can work past this, and if he is confident, I am at least hopeful.
On the second issue, the news is good. The U.S. manufacturing index rose last month as production increased and more factories added workers than at any time since Reagan held the White House. Like Reagan boom, this one is being fueled by President Bush’s tax cuts.
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Bloomberg.com reports “Tax cuts Bush won last year have helped spur the economy to the fastest growth in 20 years and at least six straight months of job gains.”
The number of initial jobless claims dropped 342,000, continuing the trend in this area, and March’s job gain of 308,000 was the strongest in four years. Because of all of this, Financial Times says “Confidence among U.S. business leaders is stronger than it has been for 20 years … as rising profits finally encourage companies to start hiring.” Indeed the poll FT refers to is “the most optimistic response on jobs since the research group began its analysis in 1976.”