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At the Republican National Convention and elsewhere during this election season, the Republicans' principal attack against President Obama is that he hasn't fixed the economy or significantly lowered the unemployment rate. The Democrats have failed effectively to call the Republicans out for not lifting a finger to work with them and with President Obama to solve these economic issues.

The story is a simple and compelling one for the Democrats, if they would only tell it:

1. George W. Bush and the Republicans crashed the economy, plunging us into a recession in 2007 and 2008, which lasted into the first half of 2009.

Further evidence of this fact could been seen this past week, as photos of the December 2008 irreversible idling of General Motors' Janesville, Wisconsin auto plant surfaced. That was just over one month after Willard Mitt Romney published his op-ed entitled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt."

2. Republicans held a secret meeting the night of President Obama's inauguration, where they schemed to torpedo any of Obama's efforts to get us out of the Bush recession, in order to try to get re-elected. This Republican meeting included Congressman and now Romney running mate Paul Ryan.

We've seen Republicans act pathologically in furtherance of this scheme, even opposing things, like health insurance mandates, and "cap and trade" to reduce pollution, that were Republican ideas.

And here's the third point that you never hear:

3. The Constitution doesn't let presidents fix the economy alone.

Under the Constitution, presidents don't have much power over the U.S. economy. You may be surprised by that, given the cult of the Presidency that the media and others, including George "I'm the decider" Bush, have built up. In fact, it's clear from the Constitution that the American people, via their representatives in Congress, are supposed to decide the economic agenda of the country. Thus, Congressional powers include, among others, the power:

    --To originate all bills for raising Revenue (Art. 1 Sec. 7);

    --To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence [sic] and general Welfare of the United States;

    --To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

    --To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

    --To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

    --To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

    --To declare war;

    --To raise and support Armies; and

    --To provide and maintain a Navy (all Article 1 Sec. 8).

The President, as "executive," is supposed to execute (i.e., carry out) those things that Congress decides, or veto them if he or she thinks they are bad ideas. Indeed, the very first section of the Constitution, Article I, describes the powers of Congress, and Article II lays out the powers of the President, not the other way around. Remember from your early eduction that our Founding Fathers, in reaction to the tyrannical Kings of England, generally wanted the Presidency to be a relatively weaker position, i.e., a co-equal partnership with Congress and the Judicial Branch.

In reaction to Republican intransigence toward President Obama, some leading Democrats charged the Republicans with being "the party of 'no'." But that was way back in 2009. When those charges didn't work in the 2010 elections in the face of Republican lies about the Affordable Care Act, the Democrats seemed to give up. That opened the door to Republicans arguing that President Obama hasn't fixed the economy himself.

There isn't much time left before the 2012 election. It may  be too late. But if the Democrats don't at least try to tell voters that President Obama can't fix the economy without help from Republicans in Congress, and try to hold the Republicans accountable for cynically refusing to help, the Democrats might needlessly lose another election.

[Originally posted at Messaging Matters]

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Comment Preferences

  •  How is "Cap and Trade" going to fix the... (3+ / 0-)

    ...economy?

    Furthermore, the fact that it''s a ExtremeRightWing proposal should give the Dems pause with respect to embracing it.

    How can a Dem who believe that income and wealth inequality is as sharp as it's been since 1929 embrace a policy, Cap and Trade, which will exacerbate this inequality.

    Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. www.hamiltonproject.org

    by PatriciaVa on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 09:07:54 AM PDT

  •  There are other issues they can talk about (3+ / 0-)

    have talked about that would result in new tax revenue streams as well as savings in needless law enforcement overtime, freeing them to devote more time to actual problems, versus wasting time with artificially-created non-problems.

    But Dems are timid creatures.

    The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.

    by xxdr zombiexx on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 09:11:55 AM PDT

    •  Obama already ruled it out (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Deward Hastings

      like a typical democrat.

      The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.

      by xxdr zombiexx on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 09:12:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  WELL, hush my mouth. (3+ / 0-)

      CNN and MSNBC to feature marijuana legalization ads during DNC.

      Colorado drug reform activists said Tuesday that they’re launching the first television ad in support of the state’s ballot initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol, set to air repeatedly in Colorado media markets on CNN and MSNBC during this year’s Democratic National Convention.
      Let's watch the voter turnout in Colorado.

      If it's above the norm, it's the marijuana issue on the ballot getting people out of their homes.

      Come on Dems...... it's OK to do the right thing now.

      Don't wanna do the right thing?

      NO PROBLEMO!!

      Do it to piss of the Republicans and damage something they get needless mileage from.

      An 'opposition' party would do such a thing........

      The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.

      by xxdr zombiexx on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 09:19:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I spoke with a canvasser on Sunday. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        xxdr zombiexx

        Sadly, however, the legislature was unable to come up with a standard for when someone is impaired, and I have a bit of a hard time voting for legalization if there's no standard about when someone is safe operating a motor vehicle and when someone isn't.  The legislature put it off for a future session.  The other problem is, the federal government still treats marijuana as an illegal drug for all purposes, so even though there are medical marijuana dispensaries, this legislation won't fix the national problem.

        I'll read the measure and decide on it for my vote.  Not going to decide solely based on opinion pieces.

        •  A judge in Canada just recently (0+ / 0-)

          tossed DUI charges because  - essentially - the Field Sobriety Test failed to provide him with evidence the defendant was unable to operate a motor vehicle.

          The Field sobriety test is far from perfect but it is scientifically validated.

          if you pass it, you pass it, if you fail it you fail it and are going to jail and have your day in court.

          People's concern about 'measuring impairment' is RIDICULOUS because standards already exist. People are mostly concerned they can't punish people for something they have been trained all their lives to despise.

          If marijuana impaired my motor skills - like ALCOHOL - I'd not be typing this: I despise intoxication.

          People will have to eventually understand marijuana just is not alcohol.

          The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.

          by xxdr zombiexx on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 03:29:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Marijuana HAS to be legal again. (0+ / 0-)

          There is simply no reason to justify the current bullshit.

          Especially with alcohol and tobacco killing 400000 Americans a year and nobody giving a shit about that.

          The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.

          by xxdr zombiexx on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 03:30:44 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent--Dems need to adopt you 1,2,3 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ColoTim, MessagingMatters

    And Dems must stop letting R's get away with their BS about Democrats having total control of Congress for two years.

    The House passed a lot of great things in 2009-10 that died with republican filibusters in the Senate.

    We had "total control" of the Senate for about 5 minutes.

    Al Franken wasn't sworn in until July and Ted Kennedy died in August.  So much for 60 votes.  (Not to mention the conservadems--we don't have lock step votes like the R's have.)

    Some people fight fire with fire. Professionals use water.

    by Happy Days on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 09:12:39 AM PDT

    •  Total control of Senate is also fake GOP meme (0+ / 0-)

      Joe Lieberman isn't a Democrat, he's an Independent who "caucuses with the Democrats" but often votes against them on crucial issues. Similarly, there were sometimes or frequent DINOs like Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln, Mark Pryor & Mary Landrieu. Lincoln announced in 2009 that she would filibuster a public option if it was included in the health care bill. Not vote against, but filibuster.

  •  And don't forget" "9/15 changed everything" (4+ / 0-)

    September 15, 2008 "changed everything."

    That was the day Lehman declared bankrupcy and the economy finally fell off the cliff that Bush policies and Wall Street recklessness had relentlessly been pushing us toward.

    Even tho the recession began in 2007, it felt like a typical recession until 9/15 when everything went to hell in a handbasket.

    Four years ago today things felt bad but not yet scary awful.  That began on 9/15.

    Some people fight fire with fire. Professionals use water.

    by Happy Days on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 09:21:44 AM PDT

  •  In my fantasy. . . (5+ / 0-)

    . . . thye following question is put to the President:

    Mr. Obama, on the eve of your inauguration in 2009, a group of current and former Republican Congressmen met to discuss ways of ensuring you would be ‘a one-term president.’  Reportedly, preventing the success of the nation’s economic recovery was discussed as an important strategy for sabotaging your presidency.  One of those present was your opponent’s running mate, Paul Ryan.  Although they apparently conspired to hurt the US economy, neither you, nor the Department of Justice, have pursued charges of treason against them.  Can you explain why not?
  •  when the economy is great (3+ / 0-)

    it is because of the leadership of the President which I never believed. When the economy is not doing well it is because of a whole host of controlled and uncontrolled issues.  A lot of the economy has to do with the global issues which can be influenced by foreign policy.  I think we need to talk up our postion in the world and how we have a lot more respect now that we are not chasing the arms of mass destruction that never would or could be found.

  •  In the early days when the election was over they (0+ / 0-)

    then went on to govern for 4 years.  They had a practical view of the world and knew that that would entail compromise.  Today the unAmerican collection of Randian asshats that make up the GnoP never quit running and would rather drag the economy down than compromise.  We neeed far less of them in Washington in power before the economy will recover.  Or we could elect more of them and see how bad it can get.

    Never promote men who seek after a state-established religion; it is spiritual tyranny--the worst of despotism. It is turnpiking the way to heaven by human law, in order to establish ministerial gates to collect toll. John Leland

    by J Edward on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 09:27:16 AM PDT

  •  Exactly, Congress is the responsible party. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    griz4u, ColoTim

    That said, it is totally disingenuous for Republicans, who claim to want government out of business to complain that the president hasn't fixed it.

    Fact is that, if we have government by the people, then the only party that's going to lose power is the Congress.  Legislators will be demoted from petty potentate, making laws to intimidate their subjects, into public servants tasked with managing the country's assets and resources.
    What we really have is a last-ditch effort by the Congress to show the electorate who's boss.  So, they've been pulling out all the stops to persuade their friends in the private corporations to impress upon their employees that they'd better vote right, if they want the remaining industrial sector to survive.
    It's my sense that the corporate sector may just be getting tired of getting jerked around, of being at the beck and call of Capitol Hill in exchange for some miserable tax break that businesses without any revenue don't even need. Both the employer who made his workers listen to Willard and refused to pay them for the time and David Koch coming out for higher taxes are a hint. The Tea Party pruning some of the dead wood is not entirely negative, either.  Some of the replacements they sent in may be duds, but there's always a chance of that.

    We organize governments to provide benefits and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 09:40:19 AM PDT

  •  re Clinton comment about pigs and corn (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ColoTim

    i like the keepn it simple thing.

    obama/DNC could riff on 2008 w "in '08 i said the policy's of the right had driven us in a ditch, and now we are out of the ditch and moving in forward.  I also said if my policies didn't work, then i'd be a 1 term president that didn't deserve a second term.  I meant that!  These other guys are looking like they want to drive us right back in the ditch.  The economy is in much better shape than 4 years ago, there is no doubt. we are ready to kick it into a higher gear"

    paul ryan created the deficit

    by rasfrome on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 09:56:58 AM PDT

    •  I loved the car in the ditch analogy (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rasfrome

      and wish that President Obama and the Democrats had kept it up. Likewise, his D/R = Democrats/Republicans = Drive/Reverse analogy. At the time, I called for t-shirts, bumper stickers, key chains, simple slogans (like "Don't Give them the Keys Back!"), etc. to push these easy to follow metaphors. For example, an elephant behind the wheel of a car, with the big red circle and diagonal line running through the picture.

  •  Given that President Obama will have had (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    J Edward

    Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress during his first two years, and a Democratic majority in the Senate all four years, this boils down to arguing against the filibuster, the current form of which was instigated by a Democratic majority Senate (1975).

    •  You may be onto something (0+ / 0-)

      Take a look at the bar charts showing Republican use of the filibuster against President Obama. It's literally off the charts, blowing away the frequency of use under any other president by a mile. The Republicans literally filibuster every bill proposed by Democrats in order to bring the U.S. to a halt, then turn around and complain that President Obama hasn't fixed the economy or ended unemployment. That's not what the filibuster was designed for, and it may well be time to adjust it at least.

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