By Jennifer Granholm, POLITICO
I confess that I really, really want to play with the shiny objects that are Galilee-splash-gate and Todd Akin’s legitimately crazy rape comments. I really do.
The Conventional Wisdom: “Every day spent talking about Medicare is a day that Romney and the Republicans can’t talk about the economy.” Every pundit worth their talking points is certain that this is a bad thing for the Romney campaign.
I’m just not so sure about that.
I’ve been asking myself — Akin and Yoder detours aside — why aren’t Republicans talking incessantly about the economy? Yes, I understand that Republicans-running-against-Obamacare-in-order-to-save-Medicare is a clever jujitsu. But how long will they play out that argument before they get back to the economy?
Then it occurred to me — maybe they aren’t talking relentlessly about jobs because they don’t want to. Maybe, deep down, they know they just don’t have good answers on how to create jobs in America as part of a global economy. Sure, they’d never admit they don’t have the answers. Because they have talking points and trickle down. But we’ve all seen the empirical evidence from the Bush years to demonstrate that trickle down doesn’t work; it only shoves money to the wealthy who make decisions about investments and job creation on a global basis. Besides, bigger tax cuts for upper-income earners will not sell with the public. Obama bashing only goes so far. At some point, they need to present a plan and some credible evidence that it will help the American economy – and the Republicans simply can’t do that, because no such evidence exists.
The Tax Policy Center, the Congressional Budget Office, the Economic Policy Institute, Annenberg, Brookings, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, your own brain and common sense logic – they all fact checked Romney’s plan and agree that his jobs numbers don’t bear out and his plan results in a tax increase for the middle class on a revenue neutral budget. The Center for American Progress concludes this about Romney’s 59-point plan: “Unfortunately, no amount of economic theory, real world evidence, basic arithmetic, or just plain logic could substantiate the belief that his 59-point jobs plan could create even 59 net new jobs in the U.S. economy…In total, by a conservative tally, Gov. Romney’s 59-point plan would actually cost the economy about 360,000 jobs in 2013 alone.”
There’s the reason he hasn’t been specific. There’s the reason why he hasn’t talked about jobs and the economy.
So, Medicare it is!
Even though Romney won’t discuss the specifics of his jobs plan, there is a point of agreement between the sides, even if the Republicans won’t admit it publicly. Republicans are secretly quite enthusiastic about government investment. Greedy even. For all the caterwauling and hand-wringing over deficits and austerity, when it comes to spending – for Republican districts or interests – the government is a crucial and necessary job creator.
Take John Cornyn, for example. After voting against the stimulus in 2009, he turned around and demanded that $3 billion of what he voted against be sent to Texas to fund NASA. This year, after penning a letter decrying the stimulus as a “failure”, he embarked on a campaign to maintain defense spending at current levels, since any cuts would cost Texas investment and the jobs that come with it – namely the hundreds of millions slated to be spent on facilities in his state.
He’s right. Cuts would cost jobs and investment and security – in Texas and everywhere else. We have a critical national need to have a strong defense, and we should do what it takes to build the capability to protect our country here. Bravo. Similarly, we have a critical national need to have educated workers, and we should do what it takes to build the means to teach our children here. Both are important.
So why do some think a defense contractor job is more worthy of government investment than an education job?
Because to Republicans, not all jobs are equal: government jobs are flat out bad – regardless of the type of job or rate of unemployment. Austerity cuts at the state and local levels have cost over 600,000 jobs, as spending has dropped nine out of the last ten quarters. Bloomberg points out that the public sector has lost more jobs in the past three years than any other, and total government employment has reached levels not seen since the 1960s. Unemployment would be a full point lower had this not happened. Indeed, if small government were a key cure to a sluggish economy, our slashed spending should’ve made us go gangbusters right about now. So much for that theory.
What other government-bashing Republicans secretly want government spending?
Well, Paul Ryan, as we now know, once favored government investment, too. There is the now-famous case of him penning letters asking for millions in stimulus green energy projects. Good for him. He’s right — those jobs for his district are important. He was also caught on tape urging passage of the Bush stimulus package because it would, of course, stimulate growth.
And there’s Mitt Romney himself. He’s on record for being one of the biggest federal dollar seekers during his time as governor. Massachusetts jumped nine points in the federal pork rankings after he took office, and he even wrote “A major priority of our Administration is to ensure that Massachusetts receives the maximum amount of dollars available from the federal government.”
Ah. Spending for me, not for thee.
I could go on for pages – Republican earmarks and spending requests abound! (Democratic earmarks do too, but at least they aren’t being hypocritical about whether investment creates jobs). But I’m getting tired of pointing out the hypocrisy: Republicans know that government spending creates jobs. They just want that spending to be funneled to their projects and districts … and they certainly don’t want to say it out loud.
If we could only get them to admit what all of the studies show: that their old theories won’t work, and that strategic, smart investment in critical needs will create jobs across America. But they won’t admit it publicly, and they won’t stop lobbying for the money they do publicly oppose.
Sigh. So that’s why Romney is not talking about the economy.
And now back to our regular programming: So, did Akin stop skinny dipping yet?