Getting back on the wrong track only three days after the 11th hour end to the budget and debt crisis, President Barack Obama lectured the GOP about doing more to promote jobs. “At a time when our economy needs more growth and more jobs, the manufactured crises of these few weeks actually harmed jobs and growth,” Obama said on his regularly scheduled Saturday radio message. Pointing fingers was precisely why House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) allowed the restive Tea Party to push the nation to the brink of default before finally giving in. While it’s true that S&P estimated the U.S. economy lost about $24 billion because of the government shutdown, it’s also true that the jobs market was on shaky ground. Next week’s delayed Commerce Dept. jobs report for September should signal to the Federal Reserve Board whether its bond-buying program AKA QE3 will continue.
Republican lawmakers, led by the Tea Party, insist that the only path to jobs growth is slashing government spending, something contradicted by every reputable economist, including Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben S. Bernanke. How the GOP concluded that cutting government spending speeds up jobs growth is anyone’s guess. They’ve been told by the nation’s leading economists that the so-called “sequester” hurts jobs growth and its eventual benefit of more tax revenue. Obama has practically done back-flips urging the GOP to spend more into the post-Great Recession economy. When the economy collapsed in 2007-08, eventually bottoming out in 2010, the country has lost over 7 million jobs. With the Fed’s loose monetary policy, including its bailout and quantitative easing or bond-buying, the economy has crawled back slowly adding over 5 million jobs since March 2010.
When Obama took office Jan. 20, 2009, the Dow Jones Industrials stood at 8,000, eventually dropping as the economy tanked to 6,000 in early 2010. Once the recovery kicked in, the Dow rose to its Friday, Oct. 18 all-time high of 15,399. As Wall Street profited from the bull market, American businesses began adding jobs, expanding the tax base and cutting federal deficits in two to around $607 billion for fiscal 2013. Yet the GOP’s formula for jobs growth involves slashing government spending, a powerful stimulus to economic growth. Tea Party types, like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), warn about increasing the federal budget and raising the debt ceiling. Almost every reputable economist, including Bernanke, urges the government to keep spending and adding government jobs. Judging the economy’s performance over the last five years, Democrats seem to get it right.
When the GOP insists on slashing spending and warning about raising the debt ceiling, the mainstream media doesn’t ask why? If the last five years count of anything, it proves that Obama’s pro-growth policies have helped grow the economy. Lambasting Republicans about water-under-the-bridge does no good. Instead of lecturing the GOP about the recently ended debt crisis, Obama would make more hay to reconsider approving the Keystone XL pipleline, promising to create thousands of new jobs. When the president vetoed the project June 25, he heeded the concerns of activists like former Vice President Al Gore. With improved technology and safety, the Keystone XL pipeline could be approved without damage to the environment. Approving the project would create thousands of jobs and set the right tone with the GOP, perhaps to give in on some of the “sequester.”
Focusing on jobs growth and the economy is a worthy task before the 2014 presidential election. After the recent debt crisis, Obama has scored plenty of points against the GOP. When voters go to the polls next years, a strong economy can only help the Democrats’ cause. “I look for willing partners from either party to get important work done,” said Obama, referring to economic development and immigration reform. Between now and next year’s election, it’s doubtful anything will get done on immigration reform. If Barack gives a little—like the Keystone XL pipeline—he’s more likely to get the GOP to ease up on slashing government spending. Rehashing old ground and pointing fingers only hurts what’s left of Washington’s bipartisanship. Agreeing to the Trans-Canada pipeline to bring oil from Calgary to Houston would be a step in the right direction.
Sending a loud message to the White House, Boehner let the Tea Party run amok to make the point that Obama must still come to the table if he wants to get things done. While the Tea Party was unable to sabotage Obamacare, they were able to disrupt the government. If there’s any chance of Barack getting anything done over the next three-and-a-half-years, he’s got a lot of rapport-building to do on Capitol Hill, especially with GOP leadership. Whatever eventually comes of Obamacare is anyone’s guess. If there’s more cooperation from the GOP, it can only help the success of the program. Both parties must work together to stop the insurance industry from price-gouging, currently driving rates through the roof. “I’ll look for willing partners from either party to get important work done,” said Barack, setting the right tone but needing to reach out to GOP leadership on the Hill.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.