In the wake of today’s awful jobs numbers, Steve Benen reminds us of something that took place way back in the mists of ancient history: Last fall, Obama proposed a whole series of job creation ideas that Republicans refused to even allow a debate on in the Senate.
No one is denying that the policies that Obama did manage to pass have underperformed, and he is seriously vulnerable to losing reelection as a result. But surely it also matters that multiple independent economists estimated that the second round of job creation policies Obama proposed — the American Jobs Act — could have added as many as 1.3 million to 2 million jobs and could have boosted GDP growth by as much as two percentage points. As Steve says...
As panic sets in after this morning’s brutal jobs report, take a moment to consider a hypothetical: what would the economy look like today if Congress had followed Obama’s lead, responded to public-opinion polls, and passed the American Jobs Act? In 2012, do you think the nation could use those 1.3 million jobs or not?
Are we better off now as a result of Republican obstructionism and intransigence, or would we have been better off if popular and effective job-creation measures had been approved?
What’s striking is that this question is almost entirely absent from the conversation today. Democrats have tried to remind people of this, but the facts of recent history needn’t be a matter of partisan argument. All of this actually happened, and it matters: Obama proposed a whole series of ideas that independent economists said could create as many as two million jobs. Republicans filibustered virtually all of them, refusing to allow a majority vote on them in the Senate, even on ideas Republicans previously supported as legitimate job-creation measures, such as more investment in the nation’s infrastructure. Yet today’s news is being discussed almost entirely in terms of what it says about the President, as if Republicans have had no role whatsoever in the events of the past few years.
And, of course, the truth is that this is probably how voters will see things, too. As I’ve said before, swing voters not schooled in the details of Senate procedure are unlikely to care why Obama was unable to get job creation ideas through. They may conclude that if Obama couldn’t prevail despite determined opposition, it reveals him to be weak or ineffective, and may decide the whole mess shows that government sucks and that government intervention can’t fix the economy. But even if that’s how voters will likely see things, that doesn’t mean the fact that Republicans refused to allow the Senate to consider job creation ideas that the American public broadly supported should simply be allowed to slide down the memory hole.
Meanwhile, as Jonathan Chait notes, Romney is not proposing any solution of his own to the crisis, in the sense that he’s not proposing any ideas that he wouldn’t be proposing if the economy were doing great. Just as Congressional Republicans calculated that the president would pay the biggest political price from a stalled recovery, even if they blocked his job creation ideas, Romney has decided that he doesn’t have to offer a crisis-specific set of solutions of his own. His perfectly-timed ad today says it all: Vote Obama out and at least you’ll feel better again about how things might go in the future.
And let’s face it: this just may work. The amazing irony of it all is that the more the recovery stalls, the more likely it gets that GOP non-participation in or obstruction of Obama’s suggested solutions — which, again, had broad public support — won’t be a factor in voter decisionmaking.