Those of us who are in the entrepreneurial and sustainable trenches might not have our proverbial finger on the pulse of Washington policy, aside from a vague understanding that things aren’t going so well. I’ll cop to being in this pack, which is why it was so surprising to me to learn that Obama’s recent to-do list of job creation, tax credits for small businesses, cutting government red-tape and putting veterans to work is largely being panned by Republican congressional leaders. Why?
First, let’s look at Obama’s proposed policies:
1. Reward American Jobs, Eliminate Tax Incentives To Ship Jobs Overseas
2. Cut Red Tape So Responsible Homeowners Can Refinance
3. Invest in a New Hire Tax Credit for Small Businesses
4. Create Jobs By Investing In Affordable Clean Energy
5. Put Returning Veterans to Work Using Skills Developed in the Military
Lest you think that there is a nefarious communist plan behind those bullet points, here are the details. These are reasonable, centrist projects that will help struggling Americans get back on their feet.
These agenda items are chock full of tax credits, which are the Republican party’s favorite policy path to economic prosperity. So why aren’t members of both parties holding hands and singing Kumbaya over this reasonable bipartisan solution? The answer may have a little something to do with November’s election.
In a half a dozen political blogs which covered the to-do list, I couldn’t find anything beyond the vaguest of criticisms from Republicans.
Politco reported on John Boehner’s response through spokesman Brendan Buck:
“While the president is recycling five old ideas, Republicans in the House have already sent the Senate a much lengthier ‘to-do’ list. We’ve passed nearly 30 jobs bills to increase American competitiveness, expand domestic energy production and rein in the red tape that is burdening small businesses,” Buck said. “Democrats are blocking every one of them.”
Fox News repeated Boehner’s talking points.
So, because the ideas are old, they are therefore not valid? Whatever the Republicans have managed to pass, I think we can all agree that more needs to be done to improve the economy and put Americans back to work. Rather than just vaguely criticizing these ideas as old, I’d welcome a rundown of why the policy goals Obama proposes are ineffective. But I couldn’t find one.
The Heritage foundation has a more robust rebuttal – they’d rather see the concentrated tax credits Obama proposes be distributed more widely. Fair enough. But is a disagreement about where tax credits should be distributed really so un-overcomable that compromise is impossible?
Romney’s camp goes so far as to admit that they are not supporting the package just because of its source:
“After more than three years of liberal policies that have driven up debt and wasteful spending, no amount of ‘to-do’ lists can hide the fact that the President’s policies have failed to make life better for the millions of Americans who are struggling in the Obama economy,” Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul said in a statement.
In so many words, Saul is saying that Romney’s camp disagrees with the package simply because it originates with Obama. Even if it were true that Obama has been entirely ineffective, which I’d disagree with – (see: saving the country from the next great depression with a bold stimulus bill, passing health care reform and capturing Osama Bin Laden) – that’s no reason to shoot down good bipartisan ideas.
Red state said: “In May, he issued Congress a “to-do list,” his latest attempt to distract from his own incomplete task: job creation.” It’s amazing that we live in a world where Obama’s policy push on jobs is somehow being spun into a distraction from job creation.
When asked about the matter of Republican opposition to the to-do list, Van Jones (to his credit, working hard to build non-partisan bridges) said, “Republicans seem to be willing to prolong American’s pain for their own political gain. Rather than helping Americans who are drowning, they are watching the body count stack up so they can get the lifeguard’s job.”
Despite the strong words, I think he’s right.
Republican congressional leaders are our representatives. They are supposed to fight for their constituents’ well-beings. Blocking solid legislation that would help people just to make a point is a short-sighted, hurtful way to represent.
The American people really are struggling, and letting them flail in the hopes that they’ll vote for another candidate come November is just plain wrong.