Higgins: Wasn’t it the economy dummy?Written by Tim Higgins | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Election of 2012 has been over for three months, but evidently its message has already been largely forgotten, especially by those who were running for office. Going into that election, it seemed clear that most running for office were clear as to the nation’s issues: unemployment rates were too high, deficits were growing far too quickly, and the national economy was growing far too slowly. Those newly elected once again promised to make these issues their ‘number one priority’.
Well the election is over, and what’s the government’s priority now? Instead of the economy, the debate is about creating comprehensive immigration law. When it’s not centered on our undocumented residents, it’s about adding to the documentation (and restriction) involved with purchasing a gun or the number of bullets it can contain. Soon-to-be-departing head of the Department of Defense Leon Panetta put his distraction in the mix by announcing that women would now be using many of those weapons in active combat situations. When the subject of who gets to buy or use a gun is temporarily set aside, who gets to marry takes center stage. While all of these are discussions worth having, none of them seem to have anything to do with the originally stated number one priority. So what have those in Washington DC done about it?
Well, they once more punted the President’s court of last resort from the Budget Control Act of 2011 (Sequestration), from January of 2013 to March. In fact, the President just announced that he’d like to see it punted down the road a few more months to get a deal that they haven’t been able to reach in two years. Speaking of the Commander in Chief, the subject of the budget is evidently so important to him that he failed for the fourth time in five years to submit his own budget to Congress before the mandated deadline for doing so. Such a failure might be seen as serious, except that the President’s past budgets seem to be considered far less so. His 2012 effort was such a resounding success in fact, that it received a bi-partisan rejection of 99-0. As pitiable as that performance might seem to the addressing a stated number one issue, the Democratically-controlled Senate has performed even worse, having failed to adopt a budget resolution since April 29th of 2009.
But hey, it’s easy to understand how the party in power could get distracted over the last four years. After all, in spite of their own stated belief that we’re dealing with the worst economy since the Great Depression; it was more important to pass Health Care reform that’s becoming a greater drain on it, auto bailouts that ignored conventional bankruptcy law to protect unions, and the Dodd-Frank bank regulations that would do nothing in the future to prevent the cause of the economic downturn. Of course after years of wrangling, the government did finally agree to ending part of the Bush Tax Rates, but the revenue generated by their effort is likely to equal between five and ten percent of the annual deficits of each of the last four years (but not this year, because Congress just approve spending its equivalent in Hurricane Sandy relief).
Never mind all of that however. In spite of the fact that Democrats control both the White House and the Senate, the fact that this supposed top issue in the nation has not been addressed on more than a temporary basis appears to be the fault of a Republican party that hasn’t been in power since 2007. This isn’t to say that Republicans have covered themselves in glory over the same period, they can hardly be held responsible the failure to show even less backbone than they have since losing the White House. Neither can their timid resistance be held as an excuse for the failure in leadership in both the Senate and the White House.
Maybe I’ve just got this all wrong however. Maybe there’s a secret Democratic strategy to solve the problems of unemployment, the deficit, and the economy by doing no more than they have in the past … paying them no more than lip service. It appeared to work for them in 2012, so perhaps it will prove equally useful for 2014. Then again, maybe now that the election of 2012 is now over, they’ve simply forgotten the question. So paraphrasing the years of Democratic hero and former president Bill Clinton: “Wasn’t it the Economy Dummy?”