Monday, September 10, 2012

The Triumph Of Political Cynicism

Out on the campaign trail, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have been arguing that Barack Obama is a failed president.  They claim that he didn't do anything when he controlled both houses of congress. But Paul Krugman takes a quick trip down memory lane:

As anyone who was paying attention knows, the period during which Democrats controlled both houses of Congress was marked by unprecedented obstructionism in the Senate. The filibuster, formerly a tactic reserved for rare occasions, became standard operating procedure; in practice, it became impossible to pass anything without 60 votes. And Democrats had those 60 votes for only a few months. Should they have tried to push through a major new economic program during that narrow window? In retrospect, yes — but that doesn’t change the reality that for most of Mr. Obama’s time in office U.S. fiscal policy has been defined not by the president’s plans but by Republican stonewalling.

And, so, Obama's American Jobs Act went nowhere. As Bill Clinton said last week at the Democratic Convention, "It takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did." But brass is the strategy behind the Republican campaign. If the Jobs Act had passed:

the consulting firm Macroeconomic Advisers estimated that the act would add 1.3 million jobs by the end of 2012.

There were good reasons for these positive assessments. Although you’d never know it from political debate, worldwide experience since the financial crisis struck in 2008 has overwhelmingly confirmed the proposition that fiscal policy “works,” that temporary increases in spending boost employment in a depressed economy (and that spending cuts increase unemployment). The Jobs Act would have been just what the doctor ordered.  

But, say Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan, Obama failed to do what he promised. Yet it was Mitch McConnell who declared that jobs were not his party's first priority. Removing Mr.Obama from office was their first and most important job.

Mr. Romney's changing positions are proof that he will do whatever it takes to win. In fact, the party he represents will also do whatever it takes. So much for principle. The Republican campaign is totally cynical.

This entry is cross posted at The Moderate Voice.

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