Because it’s time to defeat the false right-wing anti-stimulus propaganda:
There’s some good news coming out of the Bureau of Labor Statistics today–the unemployment rate dropped from 10% to 9.7% in January.
While it’s only a slight drop–and the overall economy still lost some jobs last month–the dip in the unemployment is good news.
And there’s more data from January that points toward a positive future:
One interesting fact to note, however, is that the U-6 measurement, which includes people who have lost work hours and those who have given up on finding a job alongside the unemployed, dropped relatively dramatically, from 17.3 of the labor force — where it had held steady for the last several months — to 16.5 percent. This could augur well for the jobs situation: The decrease comes from part-time workers transitioning back to the full-time — nearly 850,000 involuntary part-time employees made the switch — a sign that broader hiring could be in the offing as demand for labor increases.
Still, we cannot afford to get complacent. Unemployment is still high and there’s no telling whether or not it will continue to drop or remain where it is.
That’s why we need to pass the President’s jobs bill as soon as possible–because the more we do to put Americans back to work, the better off we as a nation will be.
I had some difficulty putting my thoughts on the MA-SEN race in order–that is, until I went to Sadly, No! and found this:
Look, I think the “lesson” of yesterday’s election and voter discontent is pretty clear: Democrats badly underestimated how awful this recession was going to get and when they shifted their focus to health care reform they blithely assumed that the steps they had already taken, from the stimulus to HAMP to Geithner’s brilliant-still-to-be-revealed secret plan for fixing the banks, would start bringing unemployment down and would make for a more favorable political climate this year.
It’s damn simple — the economy sucks and the measures that the administration have taken have provided very little effective, immediate relief to the average person. So when the health care debate went into a Baucus-induced wankfest over the summer, the Democrats lost a lot of time when they could have been working harder on job creation. If somebody is really suffering, the first thing they want is help. They’ll become concerned about how to pay for it only after they’ve been rescued.
Or, as a famous Louisianan once quipped, “It’s the economy, stupid!”
The Democrats thought they had done enough to fix the economy, so they switched over to health care reform–unfortunately, the economy continued to stagnate.
I know that politics doesn’t happen in a vacuum and that our problems started long before January 20, 2009–but nobody cares about that, people only care that there is no relief in sight.
And, in spending so much time–the better part of a year now–on health care reform, Democrats are giving off the perception that they’re fiddling while Rome burns. They’re letting the economy stagnate while they focus on other things–good things, important things, but things that are not going to fix the economy.
At this point I don’t know what to do with health care reform. My advice to the Democrats would be to just pass whatever you can right now and worry about fixing it later. We’re not going to get a unicorn–or a horse, or a pony, or even an ugly mule–at this point, so we should just get the most we can (like banning discrimination based on pre-existing conditions and granting subsidies to the middle class) and move on. Health care reform has already eaten up far too much time and effort.
David Axelrod is right: the campaign against HCR has been based on lies, and the only way to refute those lies (and stop them from being rolled out again and again) is to pass the thing, and let people see it in action. It’s too bad startup is delayed under the Senate bill — but even so, that’s what you have to do.
The Democrats need to shift away from health care reform–their priority for the forseeable future should be the economy. If I were them, my top three goals would be:
- Pass a jobs bill.
- Recoup the TARP money.
- Pass regulatory reform, reigning in Wall Street and preventing the next collapse.
It’s going to be nearly impossible to govern this country now that the Republicans can filibuster everything. Democrats are going to have a tough time this year, and they’re probably going to lose some seats in November. But they can staunch the bleeding–and maybe eventually turn things around–if they make the economy their #1 priority.
UPDATE: Also, while Scott Brown may be the GOP’s golden boy of the moment, keep in mind that he’s up for re-election come 2012. In Massachusetts.
So, unless Brown is content being a partial-term Senator, I highly doubt he’s going to remain a right-wing darling for long.
In fact, Brown could end up being the Dems go-to guy when it comes to peeling off GOP votes in order to beat a filibuster.
If I were in the Senate Democratic leadership, I would go out of my way in order to get to know the junior Senator from Massachusetts and to help him feel right at home in Washington.
How much of a difference will this make for the House?
As it turns out, not much:
While the timing of his announcement was unexpected, Griffith’s party switch will not come as a surprise to those familiar with his voting record, which is one of the most conservative among Democrats.
He has bucked the Democratic leadership on nearly all of its major domestic initiatives, including the stimulus package, health care legislation, the cap-and trade energy bill and financial regulatory reform.
He was one of only 11 House Democrats to vote against the stimulus.
Goodbye and good riddance, Rep. Griffith. Enjoy being part of the ineffectual, impotent Republican minority.
UPDATE: My question is, will Griffith be able to win reelection as a Republican?
I’ll let the electoral history of Alabama’s 5th Congressional district speak for itself:
Congressional Democrats come to their senses:
At the same time, Democrats say the apparently unbridgeable health care divide has convinced them that Republicans are dedicated solely to blocking legislative proposals for political purposes. Several said they now realized that they would have to rely strictly on their own caucus to advance such defining issues as climate change in 2010.
“We have crossed the mark of over 100 filibusters and acts of procedural obstruction in less than one year,” Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, said on the floor Sunday. “Never since the founding of the Republic, not even in the bitter sentiments preceding Civil War, was such a thing ever seen in this body.”
That’s a lesson the Democrats should have learned after the economic stimulus package, where they made concession after concession and bent over backwards to placate the GOP, yet won over only 3 out of the 219 Republicans in Congress.
The Republicans are not interested in governing this country. The GOP is only interested in scoring political points; they don’t care how much damage they cause as long as they can conceivably spin things in their favor.
The Democrats are the majority. The GOP knows that if they can obfuscate, obstruct, and effectively throw a wrench into the works of our government then they can turn around and portray the Democratic majority as impotent.
I would love to live in a country with a vibrant two-party system, where the right and left can sit down, negotiate in good faith and construct good, productive legislation that makes both sides happy.
Unfortunately, the GOP has pledged themselves wholeheartedly to obstructionism and hyperpartisanship, meaning that every time the Democrats sit down and try to work with the GOP they’re effectively pounding nails into their own political coffin.
The Democrats have the White House and sizable majorities in both houses of Congress. They should focus on winning over conservative Democrats like Ben Nelson–winning over Republicans shouldn’t be a concern at this point.
The GOP had their chance but they blew it, proving themselves unable and unwilling to govern. Until Republicans show that they’re capable of working in good faith toward good legislation, winning Republican votes shouldn’t even be an afterthought for Democratic lawmakers.
UPDATE: From the above New York Times article:
November’s economics numbers are out and the employment situation is looking up:
In the strongest employment report since the recession began nearly two years ago, the government said Friday that the nation’s employers had all but stopped shedding jobs in November, taking some of the pressure off of President Obama to come up with a jobs creation program.
The Labor Department reported that the United States economy lost 11,000 jobs in November, and the unemployment rate fell to 10 percent, down from 10.2 percent in October.
Yes, 10% unemployment is still very high. And yes, it’s not much of a comfort to say we only lost 11,000 jobs last month. Nevertheless, the slowing of our plummeting employment is a heartening sign for our economy.
And even though a jobs bill may no longer be as much of a pressing concern, it may still be worth passing–why wait for employment to improve over the next few months when we can take action now to improve it?
A new analysis by a leading MIT economist provides new ammunition for Democrats as the Senate begins formally debating the historic health-reform bill being pushed by President Barack Obama.
The report concludes that under the Senate’s health-reform bill, Americans buying individual coverage will pay less than they do for today’s typical individual market coverage, and would be protected from high out-of-pocket costs.