By JIM RYAN
Founder, Bacon³ (BaconxBaconxBacon.com)
Only one of the following two propositions can be true:
1. The U.S. economy is experiencing a painfully slow recovery because President Obama has been extraordinarily successful in passing socialistic, far-left, anti-business economic policies that are choking off the engine of job creation. Those policies have failed to revive our economy. Thus, his presidency has failed.
2. Buoyed by their gains in the 2010 mid-term elections, Republicans have taken a firm stand against President Obama’s socialistic, far-left, anti-business economic policies. The GOP has had unprecedented success in obstructing the President’s agenda, thereby saving the American people from the terrible consequences that would have flowed from the implementation of such policies.
Republicans are trying to sell these mutually exclusive propositions as a package deal by talking about the first and hiding the second at the bottom of the box.
While the GOP can’t exactly run around bragging about their successful obstructionism, the record speaks for itself. They have been downright triumphant in denying this President just about everything and anything he has ever asked for (which, honestly, hasn’t been all that much). The only way to deny their success and argue for the veracity of the first proposition would be to claim that they have failed miserably as an opposition party with both a strong majority in the House and a filibuster-happy minority in the Senate. And that would be foolish.
Having established that Boehner, McConnell and Co. have all but wiped the floors of the Capitol building with Obama’s legislative ambitions for the last two years (if not four, considering that Republicans have always had – and habitually used – at least a 41-seat filibuster advantage over Obama in the Senate), let us consider the rhetoric being employed in the 2012 campaign against President Obama: John Boehner argues that “Families and small businesses are still struggling to get by because of President Obama’s failed economic policies;” Paul Ryan says that “The president’s not a moderate Democrat. He’s way out there on the left playing partisan politics, trying to shift blame for his own failed policies.” Mitt Romney has said “This presidency has been a failed presidency,” and “He is out of ideas and out of excuses, and we need to make sure we put him out of office in 2012.”
Of which policies do you speak, gentlemen? Pretending for a moment that the economy is doing as poorly as you’d like us to believe, please tell us exactly which piece(s) of legislated Marxist insanity are killing the economy? I know, I know…Obamacare, right?. Except that Obamacare hasn’t really kicked in yet. Besides, you might want to stay away from that one, since your guy did it first. So, other than Obamacare, what policies – precisely which Obama monstrosities– are failing so horribly and causing our economy to underperform? It seems to me that what you mean to say is that President Obama has failed to put forth and lobby vociferously for legislation that resembles a Tea Party manifesto – and that is very different that saying that his policies have failed. You haven’t liked his policies or his attempts to compromise with you so you’ve prevented them from becoming law. So now you have to finish the sentence: Obama’s policies have failed…to become law. If the economy is, in fact, limping along, perhaps it is because so few ameliorative measures have actually been tried, thanks to unprecedented partisan gridlock that has turned Washington into a caricature of its own caricature.
Just today, in an attempt to capitalize on a weak jobs report, Romney told CNBC “If the president’s policies had worked, if he’d been able to get America back on track, we’d be looking at what happened in Europe as a problem but not devastating. These numbers are devastating.” Once again, we don’t actually know whether the President’s policies would have worked. It has seven months since President Obama proposed the American Jobs Act. Upon the plan’s unveiling, economists were nearly unanimous in their appraisal that it would create jobs and give a much needed boost to the economy. What did Republicans do? House Republicans shelved it and Senate Republicans filibustered it. So, while anyone is certainly entitled to the opinion that it was a terrible plan that would have destroyed the economy, no one can say that it failed.
Picture this: A sous chef is arguing with the head chef about the best way to soufflé a fillet – and physically preventing the chef from cooking it as he sees fit. Sure, they both have interesting culinary ideas, but meanwhile there’s a starving food critic in the dining room and someone’s got to soufflé the damn thing pronto. Perhaps the chef’s recipe will be a flop – and he will likely lose his job if it does. But if he is prevented from doing anything at all by an unruly underling, can he really be blamed when the critic storms out and the fillet goes rancid?
We’ll never know if Obama’s first-term economic policies would have failed miserably or succeeded spectacularly. Republicans ensured that the Obama presidency would not have the opportunity to do either. That’s all well and good, I suppose, if that’s really the way you want to play it, but you cannot then turn around and say that Obama’s policies have failed. All you can truthfully say is that you have prevented the fillet from being souffléd his way.