September 17 2013

Stop the Finger-Pointing, Mr. President!

Patrice J. Lee

Five years following financial crisis the President blames Republicans and offers no new solutions other than spending our money.

Yesterday, as gunmen rained bullets down on unsuspecting workers and residents in the DC area, the president celebrated the five-year anniversary of the financial crisis in good fashion: partisan, name-calling.

First, we do join with the President in sending our thoughts and prayers to the families of those who have been harmed. The lives of those lost must be honored and their service to our nation remembered.

Now, shifting to what the President said afterward his brief remarks on the tragedy in a speech that might well have been delayed a few days in light of the massacre…

The President touted his record of slowing the rise in healthcare costs (not reducing them by the way), creating 7.5 million jobs (although millions have simply dropped out of the job market because they’ve given up on finding work), improving the housing market and financial system, and creating more renewal energy (despite gas prices being higher now than the day he took office).

He rehashed what he thinks needs to be done in broad, general terms but offered nothing in the way of new ideas. He said we need an economy that grows faster, more good-paying jobs, prosperity for all, and ladders of opportunity. In the twenty-minute speech, more than half of it was spent on a tirade against Congress including what it (specifically House Republicans) are supposed to do versus what he wants them to do.

Nice to know that the President is leading the charge against partisanship in politics. Here’s a taste of his tirade:

Instead of making necessary changes with a scalpel, so far at least, Republicans have chosen to leave in place the so-called sequester cuts that have cost jobs, harmed growth, are hurting our military readiness. And top independent economists say this has been a big drag on our recovery this year.

The sequester makes it harder to do what’s required to boost wages for American workers, because the economy is still slack. So if Republicans want the economy to grow faster, create more jobs faster, they should want to get rid of it. It’s irresponsible to keep it in place.

And if Congress is serious about wanting to grow the economy faster and creating jobs faster, the first order of business must be to pass a sensible budget that replaces the sequester with a balanced plan that is both fiscally sound and funds the investments like education and basic research and infrastructure that we need to grow. This is not asking too much.

But the last thing they’re looking for is for us to go back to the same kind of crisis situations that we’ve had in the past. And the single most important thing we can do to prevent that is for Congress to pass a budget, without drama, that puts us on a sound path for growth, jobs, better wages, better incomes.

I cannot remember a time when one faction of one party promises economic chaos if it can’t get 100 percent of what it wants. That’s never happened before. But that’s what’s happening right now.

And he takes on the efforts to combat ObamaCare:

You have some Republicans in the House of Representatives who are promising to shut down the government at the end of this month if they can’t shut down the Affordable Care Act. And if that scheme doesn’t work, some have suggested they won’t pay the very bills that Congress has already run up, which would cause America to default on its debt for the first time in our history and would create massive economic turmoil. Interest rates on ordinary people would shoot up. Those kinds of actions are the kinds of actions that we don’t need.

The last time the same crew threatened this course of action back in 2011 even the mere suggestion of default slowed our economic growth. Everybody here remembers that. It wasn’t that long ago.

Now, keep in mind, initially, the whole argument was we’re going to do this because we want to reduce our debt. That doesn’t seem to be the focus now. Now the focus is on Obamacare. So let’s put this in perspective. The Affordable Care Act has been the law for three and a half years now. It passed both houses of Congress. The Supreme Court ruled it constitutional. It was an issue in last year’s election and the candidate who called for repeal lost. Republicans in the House have tried to repeal or sabotage it about 40 times. They’ve failed every time.

But in case there's any confusion, I will not negotiate over whether or not America keeps its word and meets its obligations. I will not negotiate over the full faith and credit of the United States. This country has worked too hard for too long to dig out of a crisis just to see their elected representatives here in Washington purposely cause another crisis.

Let's stop the threats. Let's stop the political posturing. Let's keep our government open. Let's pay our bills on time. Let's pass a budget. Let's work together to do what the American people sent us here to do: create jobs, grow our economy, expand opportunity. That’s what we need to do.

So House Republicans are responsible for the economy’s not growing as fast as it could, for the job market’s not bouncing back and I guess for every economic malaise that has plagued our economy while he’s been in office.

Based on these comments you might think that Congress has been sitting on its hands for the past five years. The President scolds them (the House) for not passing a sensible budget but let’s remember that this year was the first year since 2009 that the Senate (led by democrats) passed a budget.

The House has not slept on its responsibility to pass budget resolutions. Perhaps in the President’s eyes cutting taxes and cutting spending are irresponsible which is why he doesn’t acknowledge those budgets, but most Americans probably do. After all, following the economic crisis American families have had to cut their own spending, so they understand fiscal restraint.

And in case you missed it, he threw a nasty jab at former presidential candidate Mitt Romney for supporting the repeal of ObamaCare. That the bill squeaked through Congress doesn’t translate into national support for the sweeping government take-over of private healthcare. Just ask the half of Americans who disapprove of the ObamaCare and the 44% of Americans who think the law will make the healthcare situation worse.

Interestingly, while he touted the benefits that would come to some from ObamaCare he neglected the impact on the labor force such as employers cutting workers’ hours, rises in healthcare premiums, and the flurry of implementation problems putting the privacy and security of regular Americans at risk.

Congress is not without blame for its action and inaction, but instead of pointing fingers why can’t we look ahead to identify solutions that can drive robust growth instead of the current anemic growth in our economy. Growth (which is not driven by government spending) will generate new employment and fuel the kind of recovery that can spread economic prosperity across the nation and ripple across the world’s economy.

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