Free Markets, Free People
The “blame Bush” strategy for explaining the economy isn’t resonating with voters an LA Times story tells us. And I think the reason is summed up very nicely by a 68 year old woman from Columbus, OH:
But Peggy Swope, for one, isn’t so sure. There are plenty of reasons the economy tanked, says the 68-year-old independent, and it’s not like Obama has done such a great job turning things around. "He was so fixated doing what he thought he needed to do on healthcare that he let everything else go," said Swope, a Columbus retiree.
Now we obviously can get tied down in arguments of whether or not Bush had a hand in the downturn and whether or not Obama really could do all that much. But those arguments are going to fall on deaf ears because, as we’ve pointed out many, many times, in politics, perception is reality. And I think Ms. Swope’s perception of why we’re still in the economic shape we’re in is one that is shared by a large number of voters.
And most voters aren’t interested in what got us there – that’s history, and besides, even if you believe Bush to be at least partly at fault, he’s been gone for almost 2 years.
What they are interested in is why it got worse and most importantly, why it doesn’t seem to be getting any better in the economy. And blaming that on Bush is a hard sale – especially when Democrats spent all their time and effort on ramming health care through and essentially ignoring the economy as millions more Americans joined the unemployment line.
Though most Americans remain critical of Bush’s record on the economy — 71% in a recent USA Today-Gallup poll said he deserved a great deal or moderate amount of blame for the slow growth and high jobless rate — more than half of those polled were unhappy with Obama’s performance. More to the point, they hold him responsible for fixing the problem, regardless of who caused it.
Bottom line: blaming Bush is a loser and viewed as nothing more than the usual sniping that politicians do at this point. This economy now belongs to the Democrats and Obama. They chose health care over jobs. Now they get to pay the piper. Playing the blame game isn’t going to advance the Democrats chances anymore. That era is ended. They’re now stuck with the one they run. And the voters are in no mood for the games of 5 year olds when it comes to the economy.
POLITICO points out that the House Republicans are planning to announce their election agenda within the next two weeks. That ought to be an interesting exercise. This is supposedly a result of their “America Speaking Out” initiative, an online, grass-roots effort to build ideas from voters across the country.
Two things that have leaked out sound great but most likely will have about the same impact as PAYGO:
One of the GOP proposals would require bills to have a specific citation of constitutional authority, on the heels of criticism that Democrats breached their constitutional limits in Congress with big-ticket bills like health care reform. If a member questioned whether the House had constitutional authority to pass a bill, that challenge would receive debate and a vote.
The second major initiative would encourage — though not require — members of Congress to read bills before they vote. According to a senior House GOP source, Republicans plan to push for a new rule that would require the House to publish the text of a bill online at least three days before the House votes on it, also giving the public an opportunity to review legislation.
The first is like closing the barn door after the horse has escaped. That nag fled decades ago. Obviously I’d like to see the Constitution followed as it should be, but I find it highly unlikely that a body of lawyers would have any trouble rationalizing almost anything they come up with as “Constitutional”. I mean, look around you.
The second is, well, window dressing. While it sounds great, I have little confidence that a 2,500 page bill posted on line for 3 days allows anyone enough time to read it much less understand and react to it. I cannot think of any bill that Congress considers and debates that couldn’t wait a month for enactment (other than perhaps some funding for a natural disaster, etc). In that time a real reading could be done, and the appropriate debate among “the people” could take place. What effect even that would have on the House is unknown, however, it certainly would raise the visibility of the debate to much different levels than now and provide a little accountability so sorely missing.
We’re still digging horse apples out of the ObamaCare law. It was passed in haste precisely because of the crap it had hidden inside. Yet there is no reason whatsoever that bill couldn’t have been available on line for 30 days prior to House action. None. Making that a requirement (and if there’s a schedule that the House feels it must keep on certain reoccurring items like the budget – adapt. Move the House work schedule for that bill back a month) would certainly go a lot further to keeping House members honest and between the ditches than anything.
The rest of the agenda remains veiled in generalities:
Other bills and initiatives that are likely to be launched alongside the agenda include tax policy proposals, health reform proposals and jobs-related measures, though GOP aides involved declined to release any specifics ahead of the unveiling.
POLITICO says some of them will be designed to appeal to the Tea Party vote. The first is obviously designed to do that – but is it really something which can and will be enforced? And if it is, will it actually have an effect. Again, you’re asking a body of lawyers to vote on their interpretation of what the Constitution says, and most are going to fall back on “precedent”, i.e. the fact that in the past what many say is an unconstitutional expansion of government – see Commerce clause – has been upheld by the Supreme Court. How in the world would this change that?
Anyway, given my dissatisfaction with the first two, the GOP does indeed need to roll out reasons to vote “for” them, rather than just against Democrats. And most importantly, if they’re able to successfully appeal to the voters to vote “for” them, they better damn well execute.