Robinson misreads reality (Whipple)

According to recent Eugene Robinson columns [see recaps below], an improving economy has put congressional Republicans in a bind. They could swallow their pride, say “nice job, Mr. President,” and work with Democrats on areas of common ground such as investing more money in infrastructure and corporate tax reform (net tax increases).

The other course would be to pass bills that have no chance of ever becoming law, such as approving the Keystone pipeline or amending the president’s signature healthcare law, knowing that even if a filibuster failed he would surely veto them. This might feel good, but would hardly be “the best advertisement for effectiveness.”

One could question several of Robinson’s points, including the strength of economic recovery and the assumption that it’s OK to keep borrowing. Total debt has increased by some $7.5 trillion since the president took office, a result that may come back to haunt us.

Another flaw is the implicit assumption that while Republicans must respect the president’s wishes, he should feel free to reject their proposals. Making political deals is like dancing, and as the saying goes “it takes two to tango.”

William Whipple III


1/7/15, Time for Republicans to pitch in, Eugene Robinson –Congressional Republicans “have a fundamental choice to make. They can acknowledge the obvious areas of common ground they share with President Obama – thus showing that the Republican Party can participate responsibly in government – or they can throw temper tantrums. *** Passing a bunch of bills that have no chance of ever becoming law [such as approving the Keystone Pipeline or attacking GovCare in some manner, which even if they beat a filibuster will be vetoed by the president] is not the best advertisement for effectiveness.” So suck it up, admit the economy is doing just fine, and say “nice job, Mr. President” even if it hurts. With “deficits falling rapidly” and “interest rates at record lows,” wouldn’t it be smart to agree with Democrats that its time to invest more money on infrastructure and have a bill on the president’s desk by the end of the month? And then maybe the GOP could offer (or go along with) some ideas (no examples cited) for boosting economic mobility, “which is what we really mean when we talk about ‘opportunity’”. Here’s the full text of the column from the Washington Post. Robinson doesn’t mention the possibility that the president might need to make some adjustments in his own agenda, but why should Republicans be seen as the only ones with something to prove? Making political deals is like dancing, and as the saying goes “it takes two to tango.”

12/31/14B, Economic facts get in the way, Eugene Robinson
– Buoyed by recently improving economic results, the writer paints a picture of Republican candidates being deprived of their one credible talking point for future elections. Thus, remember how Mitt Romney “presented himself as the consummate job-creator and promised to reduce unemployment to 6 percent by the end of his first term.” Well, gee whiz, the current rate is down to 5.8% so “Obama beat him by two full years.” Now true, “the percentage of Americans participating in the workforce has declined, but this has to do with long-term demographic and social trends beyond any president’s control.” Also, “middle-class incomes have been flat, despite a recent uptick in wages,” but never mind because “gasoline prices have plummeted to an average of $2.29 a gallon nationwide, according to AAA.” In short, the “numbers we’re seeing now” make former “charges of incompetence and/or socialism untenable.” Even GovCare “turned out not to be the job-killer that critics imagined. All it has done, aside from making it possible for millions of uninsured Americans to get coverage, is help hold down the cost of medical care, which is rising at its slowest rate in decades.” No doubt GOP candidates will continue “give-no-quarter attacks” on the president’s economic record in the primaries, but “pretending that up is down won’t cut it” in the general election against a capable Democratic candidate, e.g., Hillary Clinton “if she decides to run.” Meanwhile, the Republican leadership in Congress will confront a stark choice: (1) “collaborate with Obama on issues such as tax reform, infrastructure and the minimum wage in an attempt to further boost the economy,” or (2) “grumble on the sidelines, giving the impression they are rooting against the country’s success”? We think the economic outlook is a good deal less favorable than this selective description suggests, and, more importantly, that such improvement as has taken place since 2009 has come in spite of – rather than because of – the president’s policies. Also, if things are so rosy, why did the president’s party fare so poorly in the mid-term elections?

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