Felicia Muftic: Timing and politics
June 7, 2011
Timing in politics can be a matter of astuteness. Mitt Romney launched his presidential campaign the same day economic reports were released that showed an increase in joblessness and the housing sector’s double dip. His single-issue pitch was that Obama had failed the American people on economic issues.
Romney’s opening announcement was mostly an attack ad against the Obama administration. He latched on to the negatives and failed to accent any positives. While setting goals for the economy, Romney was MIA on the hows and whats he would do better, only asking voters to trust him because he had a great resume. The time is going to come when his political opponents are going to demand that he presents his business plan for the nation in detail.
President Obama carefully timed his rebuttal by visiting a Chrysler plant in Toledo soon after to visually dramatize how he had created jobs by bailing out the auto industry, claiming that if the Republicans had the majority vote in Congress, the U.S. auto industry and one million jobs would have gone down the drain. Obama was inferring that without the stimulus, the hole we are climbing out of could have been much deeper.
Pundits hyped the economic dip as a probable backslide in the recovery. Time will tell if this is a bump or a downward trend. What will count will not be what the economy was in 2011; it will be what the economy is in 2012.
As the Bible says, there is a time to sow and a time to reap. No one on either side of the aisle disagrees we need to sow intermediate and long-term plans to reduce the deficit, but given the lingering fragile nature of the economy, real fear exists that cold turkey austerity at this time as Republicans want could kill off economic growth, delaying the time for any economic harvest.
Republicans holding any agreement on raising the debt ceiling hostage to their ideologically based plan for cuts beginning now are already causing jitters. This may be an effective legislative strategy, but they have created uncertainty about Congress’ ability to resolve this. Their actions do nothing to encourage industry and banks to invest the abundant cash they hold are holding in reserve to expand. If Republicans dare carry out their threat to block raising the debt ceiling, interest rates will rise on everything for which consumers use credit, whacking job creation and business recovery in the knees.
Obama had already enacted cutting payroll tax deductions, reforming some job killing regulations, extending the Bush tax cuts, and offering business investment tax credits. These are all short term measures geared to bolster private sector job creation and they are just taking effect.
He had also proposed a long term plan to reduce the deficit by nearly as much as GOP’S much-panned Ryan plan that would have caused seniors to pay more from their own pockets for health care. Instead of running away from the plan, Republicans have decided to defend it. Polls show it will be a hard sell.
Obama’s long term plan includes tax increases of a dollar for every three dollars of cuts, saving Medicare as we know it. While the GOP stubbornly opposes any tax increases down the line on ideological grounds, all commissions studying the deficit problem have concluded deficit reduction will not work without them. The Republicans will have to buck nonpartisan experts on that issue.
The tasks for the coming year for both the GOP and Democrats are straightforward. Dems should and can make a strong case that GOP’s cure for the deficit and the economy is worse than the disease and another formula will work nearly as well without the side effects. The GOP will need to assert with credibility that their past judgment calls that events and results have proved wrongheaded are not an indicator of their future performance. The game clock is running.
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