Visual source: Newseum
In the wake of this week's report that American families lost almost 40% of their net worth during the recession, The New York Times editorial board analyzes Republican obstructionism and the need for a pro-growth strategy:
While the Great Recession officially ended in 2009, the recovery, so far, has been an effort to climb out of the very deep hole it blasted in the economy. A continued struggle, or worse, backsliding, is almost inevitable, unless Congress and the Federal Reserve provide more aid. In fact, the deep recession would have been much deeper and the weak recovery much weaker but for past government support, including the Obama stimulus and the payroll tax cuts and extended jobless benefits passed in 2010 and 2011. Congressional Republicans opposed all of them.Dick Polman at the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, meanwhile, takes a closer look at that Republican obstructionism:
What’s needed now is even more support, including federal spending on education and public-works projects to create jobs, targeted tax credits for hiring, programs to deliver mortgage relief that supports house prices by keeping Americans in their homes, as well as a renewed commitment to financial regulation to ensure that the system doesn’t melt down again.
The Republicans — for reasons of ideology and self-serving election-year politics — are determined to block all of these necessary programs.
The Republicans' 2012 election strategy is perversely brilliant: Sabotage President Barack Obama's job-creation efforts, then blame him for the wreckage. This strategy was in action the other day, when Mitt Romney assailed Mr. Obama on the stump. Mr. Romney said that "with America in crisis, with 23 million people out of work or stopped looking for work, he hasn't put forth a plan to get us working again."The Olympian editorial board examines one discrete instance of GOP extortion:
Mr. Romney conveniently omitted the fact that Mr. Obama put forth such a jobs plan last autumn. The American Jobs Act would have put as many as 2 million construction workers, cops, teachers and firefighters back to work -- so said economic forecasters -- if only congressional Republicans hadn't dynamited it.
Yes, sabotage was required. Republicans knew their prospects for beating Mr. Obama would be damaged if they signed on to a plan that got more Americans working again. They're far too invested in economic misery to let that happen. As Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell candidly remarked in 2010, "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."
Political extortion is nothing new in Washington, or even in state legislatures. But holding up a simple extension of transportation appropriations and keeping thousands of workers from the jobs they desperately need is outrageous.Greg Sargent at The Washington Post analyzes Mitt Romney's health care plan in the larger context of Romney's false narrative that the government is to blame for everything:
Such tactics suggest Republicans are intentionally stalling economic recovery, which they will then shamelessly blame on President Barack Obama in an effort to weaken his chances at re-election in November.
That’s not just dirty politics. Stalling transportation spending hurts individuals and families who can’t make house or car payments. It hurts local businesses. It forces even more people to seek unemployment benefits, and everyone pays the cost of that. It hurts our nation.
In this mythology, government is solely to blame for the economic crisis; roll it back, and the recovery, released from Obama-bondage, will roar foward. That’s why Romney tells us that firing 145,000 government workers will put Americans back to work. And yet, Romney’s narrative is the inverse of the truth. Government jobs have declined, and that’s proven a key drag on the recovery. Some economists believe Romney’s vow of more austerity would make the crisis still worse.Ben Adler at The Nation demolishes Romney's proposed healthcare plan by pointing out there really isn't one:
Romney’s political strategy may work. Perhaps the experience of the last three years has (understandably) left swing voters so disillusioned with government and the failure to fix the economy quickly enough that they’ll be receptive to any alternative explanation of what’s gone wrong and how to fix it, without paying close attention to the details.
The true nature of the relationship between government and the economic crisis should be central to the presidential campaign. In the wake of Obama’s gaffe about the private sector “doing fine” in relation to the public sector, and in the wake of Romney’s subsequent claim that we don’t need any more cops, firefighters or teachers, we really need more serious scrutiny of the core questions that this presidential race is about.
When I asked for details of what he is proposing, the campaign said he laid it out last year and the program is available on the campaign website.Speaking of lack of details, Dan Amira at the New Yorker points out that even though Mitt Romney has refused salaires in the past, he's playing coy on the issue this time around:
The healthcare page on Romney’s site does not, in fact, tell you much about what Romney would do. Instead it mostly offers vague, inoffensive sounding principles such as “Ensure flexibility to help the uninsured, including public-private partnerships, exchanges, and subsidies” and “Offer innovation grants to explore non-litigation alternatives to dispute resolution.”
Some of the principles are more blatantly ideological and potentially quite troubling, such as “Limit federal standards and requirements on both private insurance and Medicaid coverage.” Those federal standards and requirements are in place to protect citizens from rapacious companies and miserly state governments that would deprive recipients of necessary treatments. Any given federal requirement might be too costly or unnecessary. But Romney doesn’t specify which federal requirements he would eliminate so as to avoid inviting scrutiny of what his policy would do to the vulnerable.
Presumably Romney, still having more money than God and Usher combined, would once again refuse his $400,000-per-year presidential salary, should the situation arise. But asked about it earlier today, Romney, oddly, wouldn't say. [...]Steve Levine has a must-read over at Foreign Policy about the ties between Romney's campaign and Big Oil:
Romney should feel free to take his salary or not take it, but we don't see why he needs to be mysterious about it. Unless he's planning on surprising everyone by flying over his inauguration in a helicopter and showering $400,000 in singles on the scurrying masses below, but that would be a huge safety hazard and totally irresponsible. Shame on you Mitt Romney, if you're thinking that.
Calculating that clean energy is passé among Americans more concerned about jobs and their own pocketbooks, Romney is gambling that he can tip swing voters his way by embracing dirtier air and water if the tradeoff is more employment and economic growth.
Romney's gamble is essentially a bet on the demonstrated disruptive potency of shale gas and shale oil, which over the last year or so have shaken up geopolitics from Russia to the Middle East and China. Now, Romney and the GOP leadership hope they will have the same impact on U.S. domestic politics, and sweep the former Massachusetts governor into the White House with a strong Republican majority in Congress.