For having said, famously, that his biggest goal is to make Barack Obama a one-term president, Sen. Mitch McConnell has a funny way of showing it. Forcing the president and congressional Democrats to essentially capitulate to their budget-cutting demands, McConnell and his fellow Republicans actually have ended whatever hopes they may have had to hang the continuing bad economy around Obama’s neck next year.
By insisting on no tax-revenue increases at all, and by protecting those special-interest tax loopholes for rich folks like corporate jet owners, buys Republicans headlines like: “The President Surrenders.”
It also buys them something else: the U.S. economy. No more can Republicans blame a “failed stimulus”or imagined Obama “socialism” for persistent unemployment and sluggish growth. They just imposed strict conservative budget-cutting doctrine on the American people, and they will be held responsible for it. By standing so firm for their way or the highway, the Republican Party just bought themselves ownership of the American economy.
And, in highly technical terms, well, the economy ain’t too good. In fact, it’s at definite risk of soon falling back into recession. Economists like Lawrence Mishel of the Economic Policy Institute think the all of this huge budget-cutting that Republicans just rammed through could well make the economy worse, not better. This recent budget fight was big, and messy, and very public. Republicans can’t walk away from what they’ve done now, if the economy continues to go south. If the economy does go back into the tank, conservative fingerprints are all over it.
President Obama’s re-election bid will become a variation of Harry Truman’s 1948 campaign. But instead of campaigning against a Do-Nothing Congress, as Truman did, Obama will win re-election against a Radical Congress, or an Ideological Congress. The effect will be just the same, and the president will remain in the Oval Office through Jan. 20, 2017.
David Axelrod, a top adviser to the president, says Obama “will relish that debate.” The fact is, as it relates to having an economic policy balanced between budget cuts, tax increases, and such, we know the public already is on President Obama’s side.
For the rest of us, though, the Republican budget plan will be a disaster. “This proposed debt ceiling deal tentatively concludes a needlessly manufactured crisis and will do great harm to our nation,” says Mishel, a nationally prominent economist.
Job creation should have been the priority to get our nation’s fiscal situation in order, he says. “A long-term deficit reduction at this time should only be done if coupled with substantial deficit-related supports to the economy to rapidly lower unemployment this year and next.” Obama tried, and failed, to include such basic protections as extended unemployment benefits for the nation’s jobless. Now, as it stands, those benefits will run out at the end of the year.
Yes, this new budget plan will hurt. But, at least, we know who to blame.
Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade. Capitol Idea is his regular column from Washington. This article was first published as It’s the Republicans’ Economy Now on Blogcritics.