Political Animal


August 03, 2011 3:25 PM What passes for a GOP jobs agenda

By Steve Benen

Way back in late May, House Republicans unveiled a plan to create jobs. Of course, “plan” was a strong word. It could charitably be described as a bad joke, and not even the most public-relations-savvy GOP leaders made an effort to talk about the agenda. It was unveiled, ignored, and forgotten, pretty much within the span of an afternoon.

Nearly three months later, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is still arguing that he and his caucus have a “blueprint” to create jobs and even created a new website to promote the agenda. Stephanie Mencimer took a look at what House Republicans have to offer.

Number one on the list of “pro-growth” policies House Republicans intend to push is reducing “regulatory burdens” on small businesses. The GOP plan highlights a number of regulations that hurt “job creators,” including the EPA’s efforts to regulate greenhouse gasses; the FCC’s net neutrality proposal, which is hated by the nation’s biggest telecom monopolies; and “burdensome pesticide regulation.”

Next on the list is … lower taxes. House Republicans are promising to lower the tax rate for individuals and businesses to 25 percent, down from the current 35 percent. How that squares with the other GOP proposal to tackle the national debt isn’t laid out in the plan. Presumably the big tax reduction will spur so much growth that the revenue will magically appear in the federal treasury, just the way it did, uh, with the Bush tax cuts. (It didn’t.)

The GOP’s other ideas include patent reform (which Congress actually passed since the last version of the plan was released) and “expediting” the drug approval process at the FDA. And no GOP jobs plan would be complete without a proposal to drill, baby, drill, to increase domestic energy production.

The most glaring problem with the GOP jobs agenda is that it won’t work, but nearly as painful is the realization that it’s already been tried, over and over again, to no avail. They either don’t care or can’t understand the famous axiom: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

The agenda is the agenda: cut taxes, deregulation, cut public investments, drill for oil. Good times and bad, deficit or surplus, war or peace, it just doesn’t matter.

The intellectual bankruptcy of the Republican Party is just astounding. It has no new ideas, no constructive solutions, no creativity, no depth of thought, no recollection of how and why this same foolish agenda didn’t work before. The GOP just has warmed-over nonsense, to be brought out month after month, year after year.

President Obama touted a competing jobs agenda yesterday, including an extension of the payroll tax cut, an extension of unemployment benefits, patent reform, trade deals, and most notably infrastructure investments. As he put it, “We have workers who need jobs and a country that needs rebuilding; an infrastructure bank would help us put them together.” Obama would likely prefer to be even more ambitious, but knows Congress isn’t in a job-creating mood.

Regardless, at least the president’s measures would be a positive step in the right direction, which is more than can be said for the House GOP’s “blueprint.”

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • martin on August 03, 2011 3:34 PM:

    Without seeing the details it seems the Obama plan is more of a stumble in the right direction, and a tiny stumble at that

    Continue the cut on the payroll tax? No more effective than the Republicans cutting the income tax rate, and a been there, done that proposal.

    Extend Unemployment benefits? Good policy, but won't do anything for job growth.

    Patent reforms? Definitely needed, but not a job creator of any magnitude, if at all.

    Trade Deals? Have any of our trade deals measurably created more jobs than they lost?

    Infrastructure bank seems to be the only job related proposal in the lot.

    There is no silver lining or silver bullet.

  • stormskies on August 03, 2011 3:35 PM:

    And they also want to eliminate child labor laws and eliminate the minimum wage. Want to keep unemployment around 10 percent so as to force 'competition' for what jobs there, and thus decrease the amount paid for workers doing whatever jobs. This combined with eliminating unions will create exactly the social reality that want. Meanwhile the media the corporations own will continue to pay corporate cum sluts like 15 million a year in order megaphone the corporate agenda so that the typically stupid American will continue to 'vote' against their own self interest. And that will continue until emerging fascist state reaches a point that will eliminate voting rights for those who are not wealthy enough to vote so as to then create a country in which their purposeful design of the fascist state controlled by the oligarchy becomes self perpetuating. Welcome to our future.

  • JS on August 03, 2011 3:38 PM:

    You have 240 Republican votes and a "plan", Mr. Speaker...

    Where is the jobs bill?

    Where are the jobs??

  • nemisten on August 03, 2011 3:41 PM:

    Steve -- Sometimes you're soooo cute! Of course the GOP plan is useless for creating actual JOBS. (Really -- don't listen to what they SAY -- it's pure BS.)

    Their plan, as it's been for-seeming-ever, is hugely successful for creating WEALTH for the uber-rich. You know, their puppet masters.

    Insanity? Surely you jest.

  • DisgustedWithItAll on August 03, 2011 3:43 PM:

    And yet, despite the fact the only offered solution by Republicans are the same things that caused the fiscal nightmare - tax cuts, deregulation - they're winning.

    How can that be? Answer: Democrats simply won't answer their nonsense by calling the lie to it.

  • jim filyaw on August 03, 2011 3:51 PM:

    all this is true, but beside the point. for the past thirty years, i've been asking myself when the electorate is going to wake up. answer: probably not in my lifetime. maybe not for the next millenium. each new outrage, each new insult to common intelligence is followed by greater outrages and insults. more and more i'm beginning to wonder if we're not on the cusp of a new dark age. during the last one, civilization gave up indoor plumbing for a thousand years. the ones who will suffer most are the most ardent tea baggers. its as if the power of reason has forsaken us.

  • dalloway on August 03, 2011 3:52 PM:

    Here's my question: why haven't Democrats been screaming about jobs for the past year? Because they couldn't get a bill passed? So what? If they'd yelled louder about jobs, maybe the Republicans wouldn't have been able to dominate the conversation with their debt and deficit hysterics. Maybe we'd have a bill all ready to put in their faces when Congress returns from its obscenely long recess. As a matter of fact, why not use the recess to continually hammer the Republicans about job creation and their obstruction of same? For god's sake, Mr. Obama and Democrats in Congress: Speak up!!

  • Area Man on August 03, 2011 3:53 PM:

    Calling it "intellectual bankruptcy" is being too kind. Their agenda is to serve the interests of the wealthy and powerful, and that is what these policies are designed to do, not create jobs.

  • Roddy McCorley on August 03, 2011 3:53 PM:

    They either donít care or canít understand the famous axiom: ďInsanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.Ē

    Or, maybe they're happy with the results. Republicans don't do policy - they do cover stories. This one's been working for 30 years. You bet they're gonna stick with it.

  • Grumpy on August 03, 2011 3:58 PM:

    Why would stripping EPA of GHG regulation create any more jobs than now, when EPA is not currently regulating GHG??

  • Bob M on August 03, 2011 4:00 PM:

    Nowhere did they say they were American jobs.

  • Danp on August 03, 2011 4:19 PM:

    Nowhere did they say they were American jobs.

    Or that they would pay a living wage. In fact, the theme seems to be if people with money had fewer restrictions, we could be having a construction boom - and we're talking big, stone pyramid mauseleums here.

  • cmdicely on August 03, 2011 4:24 PM:

    Why would stripping EPA of GHG regulation create any more jobs than now, when EPA is not currently regulating GHG??

    The notion -- which in explaining I am not endorsing -- is that the efforts by the EPA to regulate GHGs create uncertainty which reduces investment in certain sectors of the economy, and by definitively stripping the agency of that authority rather than letting the various lawsuits over the issue wend their way through the courts, Congress would resolve that uncertainty and the investments in those areas that are currently being held back would flow freely.

  • Redshift on August 03, 2011 4:41 PM:

    They either donít care or canít understand the famous axiom: ďInsanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.Ē

    The political corollary is that when politicians do the same thing over and over again after it's proven it doesn't work, it means their purpose isn't what they say it is.

  • Redshift on August 03, 2011 4:42 PM:

    And may I say, "job creators" is the the most insidious Big Lie since "death panels."

  • JW on August 03, 2011 4:46 PM:

    By virtue of his continually maladroit negotiations with the republican party (extending him the benefit of the doubt on that score), Obama is a cipher in any talk concerning government and job creation. He's cut himself, and, more importantly, the rank-and-file of his party off at the knees where that discussion is concerned (at least for the duration of his sorry ass administration).

    Again, that point of view extends him a huge benefit of the doubt. I'm inclined to think he knows what he's doing.

  • rusty chainsaw on August 03, 2011 4:49 PM:

    Repeat after me:

    "Job-killing infrastructure projects."

  • j on August 03, 2011 5:13 PM:

    The GOP have a simple answer to every problem - Cut taxes on the wealthy.

  • jvwalt on August 03, 2011 5:24 PM:

    So the Republicans' idea of "small business" includes greenhouse gas emitters, the telecom giants, and pesticide producers???

    Gee, I thought it meant mom-and-pops, start-ups, and small manufacturers. You know -- the REAL job creators.

  • Kyle on August 03, 2011 7:35 PM:

    They are always saying the Stimulus didn't work, but it was 1/3 tax cuts. They can't have it both ways, can they? Oh, yes they probably can.

  • Doug on August 03, 2011 8:26 PM:

    Now that, hopefully, the "debt-ceiling" crisis is no longer sucking ALL the air out any policy discussions in DC, Democrats should commence countering any and all Republican demands for more tax cuts with demands for reducing UNEMPLOYMENT via the Infrastructure Bank.
    I emphasized that last word because even low-interest voters, the ones who don't realize there's an election until lawn signs start appearing, know the "jobs" situation in this country isn't good. Everyone either knows someone who's lost their job, been put on reduced hours or has found a job that only pays 2/3 or less than their previous one.
    They will NOT look kindly on a "jobs" program that has NO provisions for actually creating jobs. An Infrastructure Bank, on the other hand, provides for near-immediate increased in the hiring of un- or under-employed people. Usually at good "union"-level wages that are more than enough to live on.
    Let the Republican/Teabaggers promise "pie tomorrow" jobs, while Democrats push for jobs "today". I don't doubt Republican/Teabaggers will do all they can to change the subject - they don't take losing well...

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  • bob h on August 04, 2011 7:19 AM:

    "The intellectual bankruptcy of the Republican Party is just astounding. It has no new ideas, no constructive solutions, no creativity, no depth of thought, no recollection of how and why this same foolish agenda didnít work before. The GOP just has warmed-over nonsense, to be brought out month after month, year after year"

    And the further astounding thing is that demographic changes are working against them so rapidly that they ought not to be able to cling to power.

  • Disgusted Texan on August 04, 2011 11:45 AM:

    Obama's "job proposals", like those of Republicans, are inept jokes.

    Infrastructure bank? As Samwick said at http://capitalgainsandgames.com/blog/andrew-samwick/2308/right-idea-wrong-scale , it could be a right idea, but the scale is ludicrous. "Look at the piddling amount of money in the proposal -- $10 billion when our total needs exceed $2000 billion and our unfunded needs exceed $1000 billion."

    It's risible, and no one should be fooled -- Obama plans to do absolutely NOTHING about jobs while saying how concerned he is.

    On jobs as well as the budget, voters HAVE NO CHOICE because neither party's leaders have any intention of doing something actually constructive.

  • Disgusted Texas on August 04, 2011 12:49 PM:

    David Sirota is withering at Salon today http://www.salon.com/news/david_sirota/2011/08/03/washington_war_on_job/index.html on the President's "job agenda": "On Tuesday, President Obama insisted to great fanfare that he's completely focused on creating new jobs. But a look past the spin and to actions shows that the rhetoric is the typical up-is-down Orwellian nonsense that has come to define the Obama era."

    Yes, the GOP jobs agenda is pathetic. Obama job agenda? Ditto.