Former U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao tells Newsmax TV that it is the “height of irony” for President Barack Obama to run against Washington — because “he is Washington.”
Speaking in an exclusive interview on Thursday, Chao was referring to the president’s economic speech on Wednesday at Knox College in which the commander-in-chief blamed Washington for America’s fiscal woes — saying it had “taken its eye off the ball.”
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“His administration is in charge,” countered Chao, who served under President George W. Bush. “In fact, the Democrats have been in charge through the Senate, the House, and the White House from 2008 and 2010 by which we saw a very socialist government in place. And they're the ones who are making the policies, the economy policies which have made our economy worse.”
She blames Obama and his fellow Democrats for America’s weak economic recovery.
“They spend too much, tax too much, regulate too much, and that is why our economy is coming out so slowly from the recession,” she said.
Chao, who is married to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said that conventional wisdom suggests that the U.S. would have rebounded more quickly from the great recession.
“Generally when the recession is deep — the deeper the recession, the stronger and quicker the comeback, the recovery — and that's just not happening because of the policy by this administration,” she asserted. “So again, it's just the height of irony that the president would run against Washington when he is Washington.”
Gone are the days, she said, when lawmakers will agree to increases in the debt ceiling without questioning the role of government and its expenditures.
“So with every discussion of the increase in the debt ceiling and why it is necessary, there will be some serious talks about whether the government has spent too much and how in the future the government can harness and reduce its own spending,” she said, commenting on the possibility of a partial government shutdown in the future.
While the president takes his economic vision on the road — with stops that included Galesburg, Ill. on Wednesday and Jacksonville, Fla. on Thursday, Chao insists the president’s speeches are more about “influencing politics” than jumpstarting the economy.
“The president is engaged in politics at a time when our economy needs real leadership,” explained Chao, who was the first Chinese American to serve in a U.S. president's cabinet and President Bush’s longest serving cabinet member.
“Obamacare, Dodd-Frank — all these new rules and regulations yet to be written have just suffocated our economy and a lot of our employers are reluctant to hire more people because they're uncertain about the future,” she insisted.
She said that U.S. employers have been slow to to make hiring decisions as a result of the uncertainty.
“They don't know how high their taxes will be. They don't know what new government regulations will be coming down the pike that would impact their business and so most employers are sitting tight,” she observed. “We've had one of the most lackluster economic conditions ever with our GDP about 1.6 percent. That is very low and our unemployment rate is 7.6 percent.”
While the media focused on a net increase of 195,000 new jobs in June, she said it missed the larger point.
“Our country needs to produce 250,000 net new jobs every month just to keep even with population growth,” she said. “You factor in also the part-time workers that increased; that means a lot of employers are actually turning back full-time workers and making them into part time in anticipation of the healthcare act. So the net new jobs — full-time new jobs created is still not as strong as all of us would like.”
She believes that Obamacare threatens what she described as one of the best healthcare system in the world.
Had the Obama administration not succeeded in passing Obamacare, she said Republicans would have most likely pursued tort reform and other changes to America’s healthcare system.
“If we did not have Obamacare, we could’ve addressed the healthcare crisis in a comprehensive, but segmented fashion — meaning that we could have promoted a health savings plan,” according to Chao. “We could’ve pushed for tort reform which added so much more cost to healthcare. We could have also promoted association healthcare plans whereby small groups and small business, non-profits, can come together, pool their risks, and form volunteer associations, thereby decreasing their healthcare.”
She accused President Obama of making promises that he can’t keep.
“Obamacare is going to increase our cost. It's not going to — as the president promised — allow us to keep the provider that we wanted nor the doctor that we want,” she said. “All of which the president has promised are simply not going to come true.”
Chao, whose husband is up for re-election, also dismissed reports that Democrats are planning to attack his record on women’s issues.
“My husband has an outstanding record in promoting opportunity for women and the women that he surrounds himself in his staff and the women that he has promoted throughout his career,” she explained. “He's the father of three daughters. He's obviously a husband who's been very supportive of a very active wife with her own career. In campaigns, lots of things will be said and what they have said about my husband is just simply not true.”
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