Saturday, April 28, 2012

GOP By The Numbers

Whenever you hear Mitt Romney say President Obama is a failure when it comes to the economy, remember that in the first six months after the 2010 midterm election alone nearly 2 million jobs were lost due to GOP-backed legislation that passed the House.

Yes, 200 days after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said his plan was to make Obama a one-term president, the GOP voted ten times against Democratic job bills.

Consider the audacity of Mitt Romney, or any Republican candidate for Congress, to call this president an economic failure when a quick look at the GOP record, and the damage they did in less than a year from the time they took control of the House shows that it is the Republicans, and not the president, who are responsible for lackluster job growth.

Forget the so-called war on women, and let's focus instead on the Republican war on the American worker. Among their first votes, the House passed the GOP "So Be It" spending bill which essentially puts economic recovery on hold in favor of continuing egregious subsidies for Big Oil.

As the Web site The Gavel reports, repealing the Patients' Rights bill not only renewed the ascendancy of big pharmaceutical companies but, according to White House figures, destroyed more than 300,000 jobs.

House Resolution 34, the Republican-passed budget, not only tore away at Medicare, but did so in order to renew tax breaks for those in the upper 1%, as well as to continue tax incentives for businesses that ship jobs overseas by taking an axe to college aid, education, and the environment.

Last year, House GOP rejected a Democratic effort that would forbid any provision of HR 2560 from going into effect that would cost jobs, or derail economic growth.

And, when House Democrats wanted to promote legislation that would reward businesses for manufacturing products here at home, thus bringing back jobs, Republicans resoundingly voted against it.

And, as The Gavel also note, in their first several months in control of Congress, Republicans voted against Democratic attempts to create jobs 10 times, including measures that had bipartisan support; measures like Build America Bonds to Create Jobs, American Jobs Matter Act, National Manufacturing Act, and even the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act which would provide the government with the wherewithal to prevent unfair manipulation of currency by countries like China.

As former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said back in 2011, "Republicans have spent 200 days ignoring jobs and pushing an ideological agenda to end Medicare and protect tax breaks for special interests, Big Oil, and corporations that ship American jobs overseas."

And the GOP accomplished all this less than a year after they won majority in the House. As Speaker Pelosi asks, where is the Republican jobs plan? Where was it then, and where is it now? There was a plan last month with the acronym JOBS, but that essentially amounted to a giveaway for small businesses.

So it is that now, nearly 400 days since the GOP first occupied the House, we're no closer to a jobs bill, and instead we have a Republican presidential contender who has the unmitigated chutzpah to highlight what he terms a failed presidency on the jobs front when he knows full well that it is thanks to the efforts of his party, of Boehner, McConnell, Cantor, and Ryan, not to mention the freshmen Republican congressmen, that the past three and a half years have shown limited signs of recovery.

What GOP leaders don't mention is that before the obstructionists took over Congress, President Obama was able to push through an $800 billion stimulus package which they may have derided, but which many economists argue may have staved off a deeper economic catastrophe, and have been responsible for whatever job growth we've had so far, however modest.

Government stimulus money that went to automakers, as well as a bold move by the president to take control of General Motors rather than let them go bankrupt as Mr. Romney then suggested, have contributed to some of the most prosperous years the auto industry has seen in a generation.

But, when Obama went before Congress again in 2011 to push for another $447 in tax cuts and government spending, several months after the GOP succeeded in occupying Congress, the American Jobs Act which would have allocated $35 billion to the states to prevent slated layoffs of teachers and fire fighters was blocked by House Republicans.

What was instead passed last month, the "Jump start Our Business Start-Up Act," is more about investor protections, owners of small business, and less about job creation as such. Indeed, the acronym, JOBS, is about as close as this legislation comes to job creation.

Keep this in mind when you hear Mr. Romney talk about how the president has failed leadership in economic policy. The kind of policy making Governor Romney has in mind is the kind that would hearken back to the days of deregulation, and doing whatever is necessary to promote corporate solvency at the expense of the little guy. His business acumen in the private sector, which he touts whenever he can, is precisely the kind of economic leadership that got us into a situation from which Mr. Obama has had to dig out. Apart from this, of course, is the obvious question. If he was so successful in the private sector, why did Mr. Romney leave Bain Capital in the first place, and turn to the public sector? Does the phrase "quit while you're ahead" ring a bell?

If you want leadership that in times of crisis throws up its hands and says, "Well, you broke it, you fix it," then Romney's your man.

Governor Romney knows full well that, if elected, he will pursue the same path as Paul Ryan in preserving the ascendancy of big business, big pharmaceutical companies, big oil, union busting, and a savage assault on the rights of the American worker. Like a dog with a bone, Romney has found his key issue, the economy, and is working overtime to make it look like lackluster economic growth is the Obama administration's fault, and is the product of Obama's leadership deficit. That Romney's argument could have any appeal for anyone earning less than a million dollars a year demonstrates that people have become so narcotized by their network news broadcasts as to avoid challenging even the most blatantly ludicrous assertions a candidate makes.

Just as Republicans are fond of saying that it's high time President Obama stop blaming George W. Bush for the our current economic malaise, it's high time for Republicans to take ownership of the fact that it has been their objective from the start to obstruct and stymie every effort at job creation, and domestic economic growth this administration has undertaken in the more than three years since it has assumed power.

Once again, it was a Republican Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, who declared it his goal to make Obama a one-term president from the start, thus it was a prominent GOP member of Congress who politicized what should have been a bipartisan effort at economic recovery. The GOP has only itself to blame for any economic growth deficit we've experienced since Mr. Obama took office.

So maybe it's not so much this president that has a failed economic policy. Maybe it's more a question of what economist Joseph Stiglitz tells the European is "half a century of stagnation," and an economic system that is, in Stiglitz's words, simply "not delivering." The miniscule, mostly political shifts from centrist Democrat to moderate wannabe right Republican isn't what may ultimately signal a return to fiscal, and social sobriety. Maybe what is needed is a global perestroika, or restructuring, not merely of wealth distribution, but a hybrid system that rewards labor while simultaneously incentivizing risk taking. Maybe what is needed is institutionalized risk management.

This president has shown flexibility, and a willingness to move in directions not traditionally associated with his party. Not much is certain, but one thing may be counted on; the same would not be true of his Republican counterpart.