By Lynn Paris
Dueling Plans for the Economy
President Obama or one of his surrogates -- like the First Lady or David Axelrod or someone else from the DNC -- write to me almost every day. Now I know they aren’t only sending emails to me; I know they send out millions of these emails every day. Normally I delete them because I don’t have time to read them and besides, I already donated to his reelection campaign which I assume is the main reason for the emails.
But every once in a while I take the time to read one, and when I do I’m always struck by how much sense they make to me. Basically, they say pretty much what I’m always saying: this election is all about what direction you want the country to go in (backward or forward) and what role (if any) the federal government should play in our lives.
The last email I received honed in on the economy, just as Obama and Romney were delivering dueling economic speeches in Ohio. As Obama said, “This is a make or break moment for middle class Americans.” And as Romney pointed out, "We need a new leader with new ideas, because Obama has failed to put more Americans back to work."
Well, it’s not as though Obama hasn’t tried to put Americans back to work! Remember the American Jobs Act that went nowhere like almost everything else he tried to accomplish while Congress sat on their hands and did absolutely nothing? Are we supposed to forget that Republicans have openly stated that they won’t pass anything (certainly not anything that has a chance of improving the economy or the country) until after the election?
At any rate, Obama’s plan to grow the economy has several main points: improve education (invest in new teachers and help more students go to college or get job training); invest in cleaner, alternative energy (which fosters innovation, creates jobs and reduces our dependence on foreign oil); lead through innovation (invest in scientists and researchers and entrepreneurs so they continue to innovate in the United States rather than letting China or India or Brazil surge ahead); focus on infrastructure (invest in businesses that create jobs to rebuild our bridges and roads and broadband before they all crumble and we’re so far behind there’s no way to return) and; fair, simple tax reform (reward businesses that create jobs here rather than rewarding those who outsource . . .and have the wealthiest pay their fair share again.)
To be fair, Romney has a plan to grow the economy, too. Actually, he has 59 points, but the main ones are: reduce taxes, especially on millionaires and corporations (you know, so those wealthy corporations can “create jobs”); roll back government regulations (so those wealthy corporations will . . . what? Do what they did to get us in this mess? No, “create jobs,” of course); expand American oil exploration (to “create jobs” for his oil company friends, I guess) and; cut spending (that one might involve taking a bold stance like firing more of those blood-sucking teachers, firefighters and policemen, because they’ve clearly been milking our economy . . . or maybe it just means slashing the services the middle class depends on, like Medicare or scholarships or job training. Under any circumstances, I don’t think this one “creates jobs”.)
Those of you who know me or who’ve been reading carefully might assume that I did some cherry-picking to come up with Obama’s and Romney’s main points, intentionally making Romney’s appear cynical. Except for the parenthetical explanations, however, those ARE his main points. I know, because I went to the Romney website to be sure I wasn’t taking some liberal’s word for it.
Now I can’t be certain that any of Obama’s ideas will reduce unemployment but they sure sound like they will. Of course, it would mean we’d have to hold up on reducing the deficit and spend some more money to stimulate the economy. Which we all know is absolute anathema to conservatives like Romney.
Or is it? After some searching around the web, I discovered that in an in-depth interview with Mark Halperin of TIME, Romney stated categorically that he would NOT cut spending dramatically in his first year (as everyone assumes he’ll do) because it would throw the country into a recession or depression. “I don’t want us to go into a recession in order to balance the budget,” he stated.
Really?? Does Paul Ryan (not to mention the rest of his right wing buddies) know that, because you’d think they be up in arms over this heretical break with their mantra. Fact is, they absolutely know it. They know that bigger deficits and more spending will spur growth, so they have to pretend to abhor the idea when Obama proposes it. If the economy gets even slightly better, they lose. If it stalls or gets worse, they win. They can afford to wait. I’m not sure the middle class can.
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