Not entirely convincingIn a speech on Thursday to the new 21st National Assembly, President Moon Jae-in stressed the importance of cooperation with opposition parties. “The biggest problem in the 20th National Assembly was a failure to gain support from opposition parties,” he said. “Regardless of who should take responsibility for the problem, we must admit that all of us should be accountable.” Then Moon accentuated the need for the legislature to open a “new era of cooperation” among related parties. We welcome his blunt facing of reality.
The problem is how to achieve the goal. We can hardly say the president did not try to talk with the opposition. But he did not make sufficient efforts. Even when the ruling Democratic Party (DP) is pushing its own way on all issues after being elated by the super majority of 176 seats it won in the April 15 parliamentary elections, he stops short of persuading the opposition. At the end of his speech Thursday, Moon promised to communicate with opposition parties without sticking to formalities — including a reopening of his proposed standing consultative body on national affairs. But the public is still dubious.
On soaring real estate prices, Moon displayed a perception completely detached from reality. Despite a steep 52 percent increase in the median price of apartments in Seoul since the launch of his administration in 2017, he vowed to press ahead with a policy based on suppressing demand through raising taxes on multiple homeowners to “end real estate speculation once and for all.”
However, his real estate policy will most likely continue to backfire. If the government chooses to raise taxes without increasing housing supplies, it will end up heating the property markets further because homeowners will pass along their increased tax burdens to tenants. The Korea Taxpayers Association attributed our skyrocketing home prices over the past 20 years to punitive real estate taxes. An increase in housing prices eventually triggers a spike in rents, as well.
Moon’s elaboration on a Korean New Deal is not convincing either given a plethora of diehard regulations for new businesses. A car-sharing platform or telemedicine could not take off in the past. The distress is further deepened by hard-line labor unions, which have refused to sign a tripartite agreement among stakeholders. How can the president hope for a stronger economy under such circumstances?
How can the government create 1.9 million jobs by 2025 with such stifling regulations and combative labor sector? We hope Moon listens to what his opponents — not allies — say during his remaining term in office. They can teach him something.