As we’ve noted with the passage of the debt ceiling “deal” earlier today in the House, there is plenty not to like. From the capitulation of the other Washington’s Democrats on core beliefs to a lack of revenue, no longer can President Obama and his supporters in Congress claim the mantle of change. And now we can add one more casualty to the list: jobs and unemployed workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are nearly 14 million people who are unemployed across the nation, and this legislation does nothing to address that issue. No new jobs and no extension of benefits. Nothing.
Perhaps if the President and Congress spent more time and effort on putting people to work, the American economy would rebound faster. Instead, one of the greatest problems facing our economy goes unaddressed.
More immediately, but equally troubling, this agreement would not address our most pressing economic problem: lack of jobs. On the contrary, by reducing deficits starting next year, this deal would do the very opposite of what virtually every mainstream economist now believes we should do: increase consumer demand by pumping more money into the economy. At one point, the debt ceiling agreement included promises to extend unemployment insurance and renew a break on the payroll tax. Those two would have provided a modest but very real boost to the economy (not to mention financial relief to people who need it). This deal would do neither.
Today the single most serious economic problem we face is getting people back to work,” Obama told employees of Cree, a Durham company that makes LEDs used in energy-efficient lights. “We stabilized the economy. We prevented a financial meltdown. An economy that was shrinking is now growing.
“But I’m still not satisfied,” Obama said. “I will not be satisfied until everyone who wants a good job that offers some security has a good job that offers some security.”
Has the situation changed all that much in one month? Not even marginally.
To be sure, the President would argue that he got the best deal he could in this situation. But when the negotiations started from the center-right and the solution is right-wing, how hard did the President actually fight for working families? It’s one thing to aspire to greater heights than thought possible and to use inspirational rhetoric to get there. However, when the rhetorical gymnastics don’t match the actions, as in this case, it’s hard not to see Obama and Congressional Democrats as (with apologies to Shakespeare), full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
To allow a small, vocal faction of one party (which only controls one house of one branch of government) to hijack the legislative process and hold it hostage, shows either an incompetence or an irresponsibility never before seen in Congress or the White House. Either way, it’s shameful. Rome is burning and the President and Congress are adding fuel to the fire.