I’ve already blogged on the government’s fight with Exxon. The oil giant has discovered a new oil field in the Gulf of Mexico. Good news? You bet, if the government weren’t preventing drilling (and the hiring that entails) by claiming that there are some technical flaws in Exxon’s application to extend its lease.

You’d think the government would overlook this, and even forego an alluring opportunity to regulate, in the face of our need for new jobs. But no, it has stopped any hope of drilling and the hiring required to do the drilling for the foreseeable future.

I remembered the Exxon story this morning when I read a Wall Street Journal editorial headlined “How Not to Grow an Economy:”

Financial markets are in turmoil, investors are fleeing to safe havens, and the chances of another recession are rising. This would seem to be a moment when government should be especially careful to do no harm, to talk and walk softly, and to reassure business that Washington wants more private investment and hiring.


The editorial lists some ways the government injured our anemic economy last week, even with the Congress on vacation and the president on a bus tour. President Obama, for example, gave warning to businesses that he is still working hard to increase taxes, aided by the musings of Warren Buffett, who asked that the super-rich such as Mr. Buffett not be coddled.

In other statements during the week, the president indicated that the disastrour federal role in home mortgages is to be preserved and extended. The Justice Department is also investigating Standard & Poor, which gave the president some unpleasant news about our credit rating:

The message: If you disagree with this Administration, you’d better lawyer-up.

The editorial also mentions the government’s job-killing duel with Exxon and, of course, more stimulus. We’re in a fix, folks:

None of these stories by themselves-or even a week of them-is enough to undermine a recovery. But the cascade of such stories day after day-about new regulations, new prosecutions or fines against business, new obstacles to investment, more spending and higher taxes-contributes to the larger lack of business and consumer confidence.

It’s impossible to quantify the impact of such policies on lost GDP or lost job creation, but everyone in the real economy understands how such signals work. The great tragedy of the Obama nonrecovery is that this Administration still doesn’t realize the damage it is doing.