Sen. Chuck Schumer (Official Senate photo)
Sen. Chuck Schumer spoke on jobs and the economy at the Economic Policy Institute Thursday. His speech contained the core outline of a jobs plan, but as importantly he laid out a forceful argument against the Republican approach on the economy, as President Obama
had done in his Wednesday press conference.
Schumer's jobs agenda includes a Highway Bill, National Infrastructure Bank, energy plan, currency exchange rate reform, and a smorgasbord of tax cuts. More details of that plan will doubtless emerge in the coming weeks, and then be endlessly debated, compromised, and filibustered. But Schumer's case for a serious jobs plan and his portrait of the Democratic and Republican approaches to the economy represents a more aggressive stance than we'd been seeing from Senate Democrats:
The evidence is clear: the Republican approach of 'cut, cut, cut' over the last six months has undermined our economic recovery.
Toward the end of last year, the recovery was gaining momentum – GDP grew 2.6% in the third quarter and 3.1% in the fourth quarter. But in the first half of 2011, as the federal government increasingly withdrew support from the economy and Republicans continually blocked us from doing anything to create jobs, growth has fallen to less than 2%.
The Republicans can say all they want that we can cut our way to prosperity, but is at odds with all the empirical evidence we have. We know from history, as well as from what we are seeing in other parts of the world right now, that cuts on the scale they have proposed in the middle of a recession will lead to lower economic growth and less job creation, not more.
We have now been playing entirely on the Republicans‘ field for six months and the recovery has only slowed. We have seen enough to know that their approach is not working.
And then he went there:
And we need to start asking ourselves an uncomfortable question – are Republicans slowing down the recovery on purpose for political gain in 2012? It's one thing for them to block programs they have always opposed. But when they start to contradict themselves by opposing programs they have supported—such as pro-business tax cuts—we are left to wonder.
Perhaps the least convincing part of Schumer's remarks came when he argued that Republicans might actually participate in passing job creation measures; I'm not optimistic that will happen, and without it, we're not going to see anything passed. However, if Schumer's forceful tone represents more than a momentary blip in the Democratic approach on the economy, it might at least shift the public debate a hair away from all cuts all the time.