by Paul Goldman
House Republican Minority Leader Eric Cantor warned Speaker John Boehner not to try to cut some “grand bargain” with the President. But the Speaker apparently believed he could talk 235 Republicans who ran on a no-new-taxes pledge to do a George Bush 41 “read my lips” reversal on tax hikes.
It appears the Speaker needs to get out into the sunlight more. Eric just won a big smack down.
Like it or not, the Tea Party won the 2010 election. “Bachmann vs Boehner: Till Death Do Us Party,” a column written by Joe Trippi, Professor Rozell, and myself for Politico, was taken to heart by Mr. Cantor, as anyone being realistic would expect. In sum, Bachmann’s gains nationally translate into less Boehner maneuvering room on Capitol Hill. That is, assuming Boehner had any maneuvering room in the first place.
Fact: Politics is not the art of the possible, despite what they teach you in school. Rather, it is the art of the necessary, as in what elected officials up for re-election next year believe is necessary to their keeping their job.
Along those lines, a “grand bargain” isn’t necessary. But lessening the fears of those with jobs that either they or their friends will be out of work or further underemployed is necessary — like really, really necessary, and soon! – because the perceptions which will shape the 2012 elections get set long before election day.
Now, the collapse of the “grand bargain” creates a huge opportunity for Mark Warner to go to Cantor and say the following: “Eric, we both agree on using tax credits to get job creators to create jobs. You have said it, I have said it, indeed we had similar bills on the subject last Session. The opening is now there, let’s seize it. It’s not a grand bargain, but it works, it helps both parties and most importantly America.”
Warner knows Democrats are misreading the basic situation. The GOP is more interested in the 85% who aren’t unemployed or underemployed, which is not an illogical political math equation. They know this 85% is increasingly fearful of losing their jobs or buying power. They are the swing vote next year. So the GOP politics skews toward the “haves” as social scientists might say.
Democrats think this is immoral and hurtful in the long run. They are right. They want to fight it. They should fight it. But they also need to do the math.
The Math: The Obama Administration says it created 2 million jobs. We can presume those 2 million are thankful, along with their families. But what of all the others still employed, meaning they had jobs prior to Obama winning the Presidency? We can presume they don’t credit the President with getting them their jobs. Democrats either.
But: Who are they going to blame for fearful feelings of possible job loss come 2012 if they persist?
Answer: Incumbents mostly, which is why Eric Cantor has reason to fear losing his majority.
There is only one way to get people to feel better about their situation. This requires economic growth more than tax fairness right now. Why?
Do the math again: If the economy is creating a lot of good new jobs at good wages, then this makes people in old jobs feel safer. This is very logical don’t you think? If your employer needs to hire new people to meet demand, then presumably he needs his existing staff too.
Plus, this demand for new people pushes wages and benefits up, you know the drill. It is a virtuous circle as they say.
So, if one person has a job and one person doesn’t, and someone creates a new job, it’s likely the person with a job keeps it and the unemployed person gets the new one. Now they are both happy, and that makes three: their elected representative is happy as well.
Bottom line: More jobs, less fear, safer for incumbents. So, both parties have a reason to support pro-job growth policies that can lessen fears.
Enter then, Mark and Eric with their ideas for tax credits, which are geared directly at getting private capital to invest in things that create jobs. They both introduced such a measure last year.
Tim Kaine and George Allen both back it big time, as does Governor McDonnell, Senator Webb, etc. In fact, it was 1986 when Reagan and a Democratic Congress first passed what Cantor-Warner want to unleash — eliminating an IRS “rule” that is costing America jobs and forcing our children to learn in obsolete schools in thousands of communities across America (which in turn, reduces their skill level, making America less competitive).
There is now a huge opening in Washington. There are a good half dozen initiatives like the bills Cantor and Warner put in last year to modernize our crumbling schools with 100% private capital, not a dime in federal government debt.
A million jobs, 21st century school facilities, all with private capital, not federally subsidized government bonds.
If that isn’t a “grand” something, then what is?