House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the Republican leadership's tether to the Tea Party, flutters the hearts of the government-bashing, budget-slicing faithful with his relentless attacks on runaway federal spending. To Cantor, an $8 billion high-speed rail connecting Las Vegas to Disneyland is wasteful "pork-barrel spending." The Virginia Republican set up the "You Cut" Web site to demonstrate how easy it is to slash government programs. And he made the Department of Housing and Urban Development the poster child for waste when he disclosed that the agency was paying for housing for Ph.D.s.Boy, when he thinks no one's listening, Cantor sounds ... well, downright progressive on government investment in high-speed rail, doesn't he?
But away from the cameras, Cantor sometimes pulls right up to the spending trough, including the very stimulus law he panned in public. Letters obtained by Newsweek show him pressing the Transportation Department to spend nearly $3 billion in stimulus money on a high-speed-rail project-not the one he derided in Nevada, but another in his home state. "Virginia ... will demonstrate that this historic investment in rail will create jobs, reduce congestion, spur economic growth and improve our environment," says a letter he signed with other Virginia members in October 2009, cribbing President Obama's own argument for the stimulus.
Cantor signed several such letters, including an earlier one seeking rail funds a month after he went on national television attacking the Vegas project.
But if that's how he feels about jobs bills like President Obama's American Jobs Act in private, why does he bash them in public? Why is he throwing up political roadblocks instead of trying to create more Virginia jobs? If you live in the 7th district, call Cantor's DC office at (202) 225-2815 or his Culpeper office at (540) 825-8960 and let us know what they say in comments.
To paraphrase Herman Cain, "Don't blame Obama, don't blame the Democrats. If you vote Republican and then the economy collapses and you don't have a job...blame yourself!" That makes a lot more sense to me than what Cain said and what the teahadist crowd cheered. If it makes sense to you as well, then on November 8, whatever you do, don't vote Republican!
From the DPVA press release accompanying the release of this video:
The number of unemployed Virginians grew by 9,535 in the month of August. The unadjusted Virginia unemployment rate increased by .03 percent in August while the national rate fell by .02 percent. The seasonally adjusted rate in Virginia rose by .02 percent in August while the seasonally adjusted national rate remained stable.Oh, and that's not even counting all the jobs losses in state and local government, in part thanks to McDonnell's misguided policies and counterproductive cut-cut-cut-some-more ideology. Meanwhile, "Bob's for Jobs" is actually focusing every day on everything BUT jobs - national Republican politics, mainly, plus his relentless flacking for the dirty energy industry (and doling out of corporate welfare to his favorite industries in general, for basically no results in terms of jobs) and, of course, his divisive social policy agenda. And this failure's considered VP material by national Republicans? That really says it all, doesn't it?
Even though the financial markets have been counting on the Federal Reserve to take action, Republican Congressional leadership sent a letter to the Federal Reserve chairman on Tuesday evening urging it not to engage in further stimulus. [...]It's no mystery what Republicans are doing here. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said the GOP's top goal is defeating President Obama in November 2012. Republicans know they worse the economy is, the better their chances of defeating President Obama. So Republicans are doing whatever they can to stop the Fed from improving the economy, American suffering and political tradition be damned.
With unemployment at 9.1 percent and Congress unable to agree on fiscal policies that might encourage job creation, many advisers have been calling on the Fed to continue using whatever ammunition it has left.
The Federal Reserve is an independent body whose decisions do not have to be ratified by the president or Congress, and efforts to influence monetary policy are discouraged to maintain its credibility.
"Even if I agreed" with the Republican letter, Tony Fratto, a former adviser to President George W. Bush, wrote in a Twitter post, "I'd still disagree with the effort to put public political pressure on Bernanke."
The mystery? That every reporter in Washington knows all of the above, but they won't say any of it out loud. Instead, we get he said, she said reporting - "Lots of people want the Fed to do something, Republicans don't, who can say why or who's right? We'll have to leave it there."
UPDATE: The Fed has ignored GOP pressure and moved to get the economy growing again.
About 850 construction workers have descended on Gila Bend to work on the plants this summer, and about double that number are expected next year as the largest alternative-energy project in the state, the Solana Generating Station [design at right], ramps up construction. [...]Meanwhile, electricity prices in Virginia are up about 35 percent since 2005. Electric rates in Arizona have increased somewhat, but there's one major difference: While Arizona has incentivized efficiency, the Virginia General Assembly still tells Dominion Virginia Power to make more profit by selling you more juice. So while Arizona Public Service Co. will be trying to cut its customers' electricity use 22 percent by 2020, Dominion Virginia Power expects demand to increase 30 percent by 2026. That means lower electricity bills in Arizona and higher electricity bills in Virginia.
Abel Ortiz, 49, of Buckeye, had been out of work for months before landing a job as a laborer at the power plant. He said the pay assembling the solar-panel arrays was good. Normally, a labor job would pay about $8 an hour, but he's making more than $10 an hour, he said. [...]
The two small plants have a combined 34 megawatts of capacity, and Solana has 280, putting the economic benefit to Gila Bend north of $300 million from the current projects. "These projects have been taking a lot of folks that have been unemployed and putting them to work," Geisler said.
President Obama would fund his $447 billion plan to create jobs largely by raising taxes on wealthier families, White House aides said Monday after the president again called on Congress to support the package.House Speaker John Boehner's office is already indicating Republicans will block the plan, meaning the entire GOP strategy between now & November 2012 will be to block anything Democrats try to do to improve the economy and hope voters don't realize what's going on.
During a Rose Garden appearance, Obama pledged to send Congress the American Jobs Act on Monday evening when the legislative body resumes its session. Aides revealed for the first time that the plan will include limits on itemized deductions for individuals who earn more than $200,000 a year and families that earn more than $250,000.
Eliminating those deductions will bring in an additional $400 billion in revenue, said Jack Lew, director of the Office of Management and Budget.
The administration also is recommending closing oil and gas loopholes and changing the depreciation rules for corporate airplanes. All of the new rules, which would take effect in 2013, would bring in an estimated total of $467 billion, more than enough to pay for the president's jobs bill, Lew said during the White House's daily press briefing Monday.
The November 2012 elections will be defined by how Congressional Republicans react to the gauntlet thrown down by President Obama on Capitol Hill last night. Here are their choices and the political implications:
- Pass the American Jobs Act. Puts all the risk/reward for the economy through November 2012 on Obama. If the unemployment rate goes down, Obama gets the credit; if not, we could be looking at President Romney.
- Reject the American Jobs Act. Puts all the risk/reward for the economy through November 2012 on Republicans. If the economy improves despite continued inaction, Republicans can bask in the glow; if not, President Obama can blame the do-nothing Congress for the continuing slump.
- Pass some elements of the American Jobs Act, reject others. The political ramifications of this option aresn't that far off from #2 - President Obama could still say "Well, I told them what I'd do, and they didn't do it, so if you want to know why the economy still stinks, ask Eric Cantor."
Given how GOP-pushed austerity is devastating employment, this seems like exactly the right strategy for President Obama. If he hadn't introduced a sizeable bill and demanded it be passed right away & as written, Obama faced the possibility of voters blaming him for the terrible results of defacto GOP economic policies. Now Congressional Republicans get to choose their own destiny - and it's hard to imagine they'll choose wisely.
Senior Advisor to President Obama, David Plouffe, previews the President's address to a joint session of Congress about how he will continue to grow the economy and his plan to create jobs faster than they are already being created. You can watch the President's address live, tonight at 7PM EDT at http://whitehouse.gov/live
So, there's a preview from one of President Obama's top advisors. What I want is for President Obama to really frame the choices facing our nation right now. I'm looking for him to provide strong leadership and a clear vision of where we need to go. That does NOT mean austerity in the midst of a recession, aka "the exact opposite of what every economics course teaches us." And no, despite what the ignoramus from Texas said last night in the Republican
In stark contrast, with interest rates at historic lows, with tremendous slack in the economy, and with an enormous pent-up/backlogged need to invest in America's infrastructure, there is NO BETTER TIME THAN RIGHT NOW for the government to be putting money into long-term infrastructure -- particularly energy efficient and otherwise "green" infrastructure, including "green" schools, buildings, transportation, energy production and transmission, etc. -- that will strengthen American for decades to come. What on earth would we be waiting for, higher interest rates and more expensive labor and materials as the economy recovers? What rational reason would lead us to do that? And why would we even think of listening to angry, ignorant voices - the Teapublicans, mostly - telling us to do the exact opposite of what we should be doing, what everything we know about economics teaches us, right now?
Tonight, I urge President Obama to ignore the know-nothings, John Birchers, and Eric Can'tors of the world, and instead to go big, go bold, and lay out a vision for American greatness in the 21st century. That's not to much to ask from the guy who told us "Yes WE CAN!" in 2008, is it? :)
Although you'd never know it listening to the ranters, the past year has actually been a pretty good test of the theory that slashing government spending actually creates jobs. The deficit obsession has blocked a much-needed second round of federal stimulus, and with stimulus spending, such as it was, fading out, we're experiencing de facto fiscal austerity. State and local governments, in particular, faced with the loss of federal aid, have been sharply cutting many programs and have been laying off a lot of workers, mostly schoolteachers.Krugman says on job creation, Republicans "will oppose anything Mr. Obama proposes, even if it would clearly help the economy - or maybe I should say, especially if it would help the economy, since high unemployment helps them politically." But hey, as long as Republicans can admit publicly their goal is to destroy government rather than create jobs & the media won't call them on it, what's their motivation to act anything but cynically? And it gives GOP politicians like Gov. Bob McDonnell lots of chances to try for photo ops at food banks!
And somehow the private sector hasn't responded to these layoffs by rejoicing at the sight of a shrinking government and embarking on a hiring spree.
He acknowledges being part of the problem, which became very clear to him when he vacationed at his childhood home on a farm in Yamhill Oregon, and as he visits old friends he writes
I can't help feeling that national politicians and national journalists alike have dropped the ball on jobs. Some 25 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed - that's more than 16 percent of the work force - but jobs haven't been nearly high enough on the national agenda.
After acknowledging his own culpability, choosing to ask the President a "gotcha" question when he could have asked about this national problem, Kristof writes
A study by National Journal in May found something similar: newspaper articles about "unemployment" apparently fell over the last two years, while references to the "deficit" soared.
Yet despite that, poll after poll makes it clear that Americans by around a 2-1 margin are more concerned about jobs and unemployment than they are the deficit.
Kristof offers more.