Monday, August 13, 2012

Where are the jobs?

Chairman Ryan's opening salvo as VP candidate was to tell voters to ask President Obama "Where are the jobs?"

What he didn't say--but obviously wanted to think--were these propositions:

1. That America's President is responsible for employment in America--not Congress, not world economic events like the Euro crisis, not events in the states (many controlled by Republican legislatures and governors, though those are preoccupied with vote suppression and banning abortion instead of working on the economy), not the courts. So apparently the Republicans believe the American President is actually a king with term limits, and nothing the Republicans in the Senate have to block Presidential initiatives and appointments and Democratic legislation has had the slightest effect on joblessness.

2. That when a president takes office, nothing the previous administration and Congress did has any effect on joblessness during the current president's term. The idea that the Republicans handed the Democrats a problem so huge it would take 20 years to solve, then gave the Democrats a year to do so--while fighting the Democrats' efforts every inch of the way? Inconceivable, to quote one of my favorite characters from Princess Bride.

3. That world events outside the control of any American president or legislature have no effect whatsoever on joblessness in this country.

4. That the current level of joblessness isn't a vast improvement on what it would be if the Republicans had won the last election. You're supposed to compare current joblessness with the lowest rate of unemployment at the height of the last boom, not with what the actual alternatives are now during the recession and deficit the Republicans handed President Obama.

5. That we actually have a parliamentary system, in which the country's chief executive is always a member of the party with a majority in congress, without our Senate's rules that let a minority throw sand in the gears of majority efforts. In such a system the country's chief executive and his or her party can ram through whatever legislation they want; they OWN the government and they're responsible for what happens in the country (always with the proviso that even in parliamentary systems a new government's first hand is the one the other side dealt them coming in, and no nation is an island (so to speak).

In our system the president has a huge bully pulpit and considerable leeway in foreign affairs, but domestically he's actually more like Administrator in Chief than a parliamentary system's Prime Minister. Even when the president's party has a majority in both houses of Congress, it's still nearly impossible to make anything happen or get anyone appointed unless the president's party has not just a majority in the Senate but over 60 votes--and even then they can be daunted by ability of the Republican Party to mount lavishly financed hits on any Congressman at any time--like just before an election, too late to mount a counterattack.

My advice: turn over the Republican's rocks and shine a flashlight on what's scurrying around in the dark.

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