Mr. Boehner, Where Are the Jobs?
Running primarily on a platform anchored by jobs and the economy during the 2010 midterm general election, Republicans figuratively took Democrats to the woodshed; they engineered a drubbing that inspired President Obama’s illustrious “shellacking” admission.
Immediately afterward, Republicans wasted no time declaring the election results a loud and clear denunciation of everything Obama. Indeed, it was a high season for a lot of symbolism, sound bites and photo-ops! GOP Congressional Leaders took turns pounding their chests and stroking the backs of the party’s base with pronouncements that even the most naive ought to have known were pointless bluster.
They repeatedly and boisterously bragged about instantly slashing $100 billion from federal spending and summarily repealing Obama’s health care reform law. Thankfully, neither had materialized.
Any attentive 5th grader, with modicum knowledge of basic civics, and therefore the inner workings of the US legislative process, knew this was simply implausible. Although Democrats lost a whopping 62 seats and consequently ceded control of the US House of Representatives (242-193) and also gave away six Senate seats, they did manage to retain command of the Senate with a 53-47 majority.
So, even if using their solid lead in the House, Republicans positively forced through a bill negating any of Obama’s core policy priorities, they’d not only have had to contend with a Senate still safely in liberal hands but the president’s impenetrable power of veto.
What seemed almost inescapable as the 112th Congress convened, especially given the palpable air of hyper-partisanship, was the possibility of the kind of gridlock that could render the last two years of the Obama presidency ineffectual.
Approximately six months since John Boehner assumed the House Speakership, gavel and all, promising a return to the cherished ideals of “a free exchange of ideas . . . a fair debate and a fair vote,” it’s only just to gauge his accomplishments thus far regarding the subject singularly responsible for his ascension as Speaker: jobs!
Leading up to the mid-terms, Mr. Boehner was brashly and unrelentingly critical of President Obama for, in his own estimation or the GOP’s dominant party-line characterization, having failed the American people by not orchestrating as rapid a recovery from the economic doldrums as they would like.
Despite the fact that most independent assessments by leading economists and institutions (including the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office) attested that the worst catastrophe had been averted with the controversial TARP policies that Obama inherited from Bush and naturally extended (the auto and banking/insurance industries were spared a cataclysmic collapse) and millions of jobs had actually been created, the Republican establishment successfully framed the discourse to its advantage.
But be that as it may, where, Mr. Boehner, are the jobs?
It is indisputable that Boehner and the GOP entire leadership in the House have been derelict in showing leadership in this regard. They have been quite challenged in pivoting from their traditional arm-chair critic role to setting the national agenda; it’s almost like they seized control but forgot that they were truly in charge!
No new policies with any immediate or direct promise of creating any jobs have been pushed through Congress. It’s been simply the same purist, worn demagoguery. Cut, cut, cut----taxes, government spending, Medicaid, Medicare, health care, educational funding, on and on and on!
Meanwhile, the jobs crisis that Boehner so eloquently and passionately (often with tears streaming down his face) articulated has intensified; in fact, with the economic recovery now almost totally arrested, the situation has gotten hopelessly worse.
Boehner, Eric Cantor and other establishment Republicans are continuing to do the only thing they know how to do: endlessly litigate, point fingers and apportion blames. Who? The White House, of course!
In reality, Boehner’s calculating, diversionary, obstructionist methods have impeded job growth to the degree that they have robbed the American people of the kind of bi-partisanship that would have indubitably engendered the kinds of valuable stimulus programs necessary to keep the economy on an upward trajectory and bring much-needed reprieve to millions of the unemployed and underemployed.
As the larger budget and Bush tax cut debates earlier in the year, the Ryan Budget proposal, and the current debt limit extension discussions demonstrate, still buoyed by the Pyrrhic victory from the 2010 mid-tem election, Republicans have chosen the uncelebrated path of “do nothingness.”
But as must be true with both the job situation and the GOP’s reprehensible position on taxes (seeking to extend relief to the top 1% that not only doesn’t need it but notably has more than twice the net worth of the bottom 80%), there will be a day of reckoning; Boehner and his associates on the Republican Congressional Leadership must render an accounting of their time in office.