Current Events

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Job-Killing Republican Agenda

Come on Mr. President.  the Issue Is Jobs
Sunday, January 09, 2011
Subject: Hitting 'Em Where It Hurts

Dear Friends,

I have sometimes used this forum to say unkind things about Republicans. I want to weigh in on the other side.

The country faces some serious problems nowadays. We are trapped in a recession which feels like a depression to everyone but the economists who call it a recovery. Unemployment is about 10%, if you believe the Pollyannas over at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Republican Party believes that the 20% of the electorate who voted for it in November have given it a mandate to plunge the country into ruin. About 60 days from now the Republicans are going to hold the debt ceiling hostage to their anxious desire to give it the final push. And so on.

It seems to me this would be a good time for the President to use the bully pulpit of the nation's leading newspaper to stake out some high ground for the critical battles to come. Rally the troops. Educate the masses. Put down a marker. Draw a line the sand. You know what I mean. Presidents don't often write op-eds for the NYT so make it count. Right?

Wrong. The President has chosen to make his big splash with a piece called "In Sudan, an Election and a Beginning". Now many Americans know where Sudan is. Not most, but many. And of those who do, I'm sure there are some who give a fuck what happens there. Say - apart from Barack Obama - a couple of thousand.

A lot of people - including our better informed assassins out here in Arizona - think that President Obama was born in another country. I disagree. I think he was born on another planet.

Warm regards,

I received the email above from an old friend of almost 50 years.  He is right on, as always.  Here’s my reply.

Hi Norm,

With your mention of the Arizona assassins along with Sudan, you've raised two points I wanted to discuss: the quality of the political dialog and the content.  I think enough is getting said on the quality side (maybe the best is today's Borowitz Report -- Crisis at Fox News – best line: Glen Beck has gone back to his old job standing in the back of theaters and shouting “Fire.” ) although I doubt that the "If-ballots-don't-work, we'll-use-bullets" people are much interested.  What's going to get said from "the bully pulpit" needs more attention.  In an article dated Dec. 16 in the NYRB Paul Krugman along with his colleague Robin Wells was wondering whether progressives will have to dump Obama: "Where Do We Go from here"
Euene Robinson and MSNBC’s smartest commentator, Rachel Madow have been saying similar things.  It's pretty clear that the Republicans won the propaganda war in 2010 and that Obama is going to have to take the lead in 2011, if things are going to get turned around.  One hopeful sign is all the buzz about how the Republican House's maneuvering to try to repeal the Health Care Law has actually unified the Democrats.  It's clear that it's time for Obama to step forward and take the lead.  Now if the President needs some good advice on how to proceed and how to formulate the message, I hope he will read Steve Pearlstein's column in the Post Jan. 7 
 I recommend you read the whole thing.  There are some excerpts below: 

'Job-killing' regulation? 'Job-killing' spending? Let's kill this GOP canard.

Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 6, 2011; 10:37 PM
There's "job-killing legislation,"… And "job-killing regulations," …. Big deficits are always "job-killing," which might … surprise … you Keynesians out there, along with the "job-killing spending binge" and "job-killing stimulus projects."

President Obama, runs a "job-killing administration" with a "job-killing agenda" carried out by a "job-killing bureaucracy."

…. the entire federal government is a "job-killing machine" or - my personal favorite - a "job-killing beast."

… it is now a violation of House rules to utter the word "taxes" or "tax increase" on the chamber floor without the "job-killing" prefix

A Republican talking point, a Fox News broadcast or a Chamber of Commerce press release is now incomplete without “job-killing”

Ironically, the first order of legislative business in the new Republican House will be to repeal last year's health-care reform law. Since the immediate impact of the measure will be to allow 30 million more Americans the chance to buy drugs and medical services from doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies, it's hard to imagine a more effective way to reduce employment in the one sector that is actually adding jobs.

The other GOP priority is to cut $100 billion this year from the government's domestic spending, which translates into the loss of close to a million jobs for government workers and contractors. Apparently, in the stylized way that Republicans count things, those positions don't count as real jobs.

What's particularly noteworthy about this fixation with "job killing" is that it stands in such contrast to the complete lack of concern about policies that kill people rather than jobs.
Repealing health-care reform, for instance, would inevitably lead to thousands of unnecessary deaths each year because of an inability to get medical care.

Republicans continue to insist that any reform of mine safety laws is bad for miners' employment.
Republicans also continue to oppose food safety legislation, just as they oppose any regulation that would effectively keep assault weapons out of the hands of convicted criminals
[re BP et al] all Republicans can talk about is the jobs that might be lost as a result of more vigorous oversight of deep-water drilling.

There is an unmistakable redbaiting quality to the "job-killing" rhetoric, a throwback to the McCarthy era. ….. Rather than contributing to the political dialogue, it is a substitute for serious discussion. And the fact that it continues unabated suggests that Republicans are not ready to compromise or to govern.

So the next time you hear some politician or radio blowhard or corporate hack tossing around the "job-killing" accusation, you can be pretty sure he's not somebody to be taken seriously. It's a sign that he disrespects your intelligence, disrespects the truth and disrespects the democratic process. By poisoning the political well and making it difficult for our political system to respond effectively to economic challenges, Republicans may turn out to be the biggest job killers of all.

[My apologies to Steve Pearlstein for shortening his column.  It was perfect as it was, but I wasn't sure the Post would allow me to quote it in full in a blog.]

I hope Obama will be able to discuss the job killing Republican agenda which has sent most of our manufacturing jobs overseas and has gone far toward making John Diebold's prophecy in the early 1960s come true:

In the end there will be no jobs except managing data networks and bed making.

Which we can translate now as financial services and software for a few and low paying service jobs for the rest of us.


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