Washington is the only city in America where housing values are going up. That may help explain why the political class is so divorced from the nation’s agonies. Sure, the entire nation celebrated the dispatch of Osama bin Laden, but when it comes to the economy, the Beltway is a world unto itself.
Two years from the official beginning of the “recovery,” America continues to suffer a deep and punishing jobs crisis. One in six Americans of working age is unemployed or underemployed. College students, laden with record levels of debt, are graduating into the worst jobs market since the Great Depression. Long-term unemployment is at unprecedented levels. At current rates of job growth, we won’t return to pre-recession employment levels until 2016. And the jobs that are being created — largely in the service industry — tend to have lower pay and benefits than the jobs that were lost.
Katrina vanden Heuvel
Editor and publisher of the Nation magazine, vanden Heuvel writes a weekly column for The Post.
Republicans won big in 2010 elections with now-House Speaker John Boehner bellowing coast to coast, “Where are the jobs?” But since coming to Washington, the Tea Party-dominated House has focused on everything but jobs — moving to repeal health-care reform, cripple financial reform, assail the Environmental Protection Agency, defund Planned Parenthood and NPR, and enact savage cuts in domestic spending.
Perhaps the reason is that the party is bereft of ideas on how to create jobs. Last week, Senate Republicans chose freshman Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) to roll out a seven-point “Senate Republican Jobs Plan.” Portman, the Office of Management and Budget director under George W. Bush, was a curious choice, since he contributed to the administration that ran up record deficits, and produced zero job growth and declining incomes while driving the economy off the cliff.
Turns out this wasn’t an accident, since much of the new Republican agenda is the old Bush agenda. The argument remains the same: The way to recover from the Great Recession is to go back to the policies that drove us into it — more top-end and corporate tax cuts, more deregulation, more corporate trade accords. Now those who brought us disaster would add deep and immediate spending cuts, including “entitlement reform” (read cutting Social Security and ending Medicare and Medicaid as we know them). And then they would lard on the hot-button conservative fixations du jour — repeal health-care reform, stop “card check” for unions, stop the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases, subsidizing nuclear power and “drill, baby, drill.”
Hard to take any of this seriously. Tax cuts would add to the cash that companies are sitting on, while they wait for customers to show up. Cuts in spending would add to government layoffs. Pushing deregulation two years after Wall Street excesses blew up the economy takes chutzpah, not common sense. The three Bush trade accords — Panama, Colombia and South Korea — will not make a measurable difference for jobs one way or another. Even Portman didn’t seem to be paying much attention; he rolled out the plan in front of an Ohio manufacturing plant that has been subsidized by the stimulus plan and alternative-energy subsidies that Republicans are committed to ending.