After reading the morning papers — papers filled with red arrows and red-hot rhetoric, that sense of powerlessness is back. That sense that the people we hope and expect to make things right either don’t know exactly how to do it or are resistant to doing what everyone knows needs to be done. What I’m hungering for right now is a sense of urgency and unity among our leaders in the face of economic uncertainty. And at the rate things are going, I’m destined to starve.
I don’t fault President Obama for addressing the nation yesterday. With the market in free fall yesterday thanks to the unprecedented Standard & Poor’s downgrade of United States debt, you’d hope he would come to the microphones. But I have to share Dana Milbank’s frustration that Obama didn’t use his remarks in the State Dining Room to not just say he would be offering plans “in the coming weeks,” but to offer them now. To demand that Congress come back to Washington to get about the business of righting America’s listing ship.
Then again, after comments like this from House Minority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), you can understand Obama’s reticence.
“Over the next several months, there will be tremendous pressure on Congress to prove that S&P’s analysis of the inability of the political parties to bridge our differences is wrong. In short, there will be pressure to compromise on tax increases. We will be told that there is no other way forward. I respectfully disagree. As we have said from the beginning of the year, the new Republican Majority was elected to change the way Washington does business. We were not elected to raise taxes.”
In its drive to change the way Washington does business, the new Republican majority is going to put America out of business. Holler and scream all you want about the flawed messenger that is S&P. But its message is dead-on right. Cantor’s attitude and that of the Republican field for president is fueling fear that “America’s governance and policymaking [is] becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable.”
“It’s just blame, blame, blame. It’s a blame presidency,” Mitt Romney said yesterday. “Stop attacking and lead...I don’t think I’ve seen a more partisan, blame-oriented presidency during my lifetime.” And after accusing the president of being in hiding after the downgrade, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) slammed Obama for “com[ing] out just long enough today to again declare that raising taxes and cutting Medicare are his only solution to our nation’s economic crisis.” File this under gall.
Romney was missing during the entire debt-ceiling fight and emerged a la Punxatawney Phil to see his shadow and declare his opposition to the measure that had already passed Congress. And Bachmann, like Romney, has yet to articulate an economic plan for the nation beyond the worn-out talking point about not taxing job creators. Where are their plans? Beyond the gutsy yet draconian “Path to Prosperity” from Paul Ryan, what do congressional Republicans have to offer other than “no”? Obama says he has plans. Let’s see them.
The American people are starving for leadership. With their economic security threatened, they want to hear specifically how the president and the folks hoping to oust him will save the economy and put people back to work. How much longer must they wait?