President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats are escalating their efforts to pin the responsibility for the dismal economy on Republicans.
Thursday's 512-point slide in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, exacerbated by Standard & Poor’s downgrading the U.S. credit rating from AAA to AA+ Friday night, increased the likelihood that voters will express their wrath over the bad business climate in November 2012.
House Speaker John Boehner placed the blame for the downgrade squarely at the feet of the Democrats, saying: “This decision by S&P is the latest consequence of the out-of-control spending that has taken place in Washington for decades. The spending binge has resulted in job-destroying economic uncertainty and now threatens to send destructive ripple effects across our credit markets.
“Republicans have listened to the voices of the American people and worked to bring the spending binge to a halt. We are no longer debating how much to spend, but rather how much to cut. Unfortunately, decades of reckless spending cannot be reversed immediately, especially when the Democrats who run Washington remain unwilling to make the tough choices required to put America on solid ground," Boehner said.
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Although even S&P said both parties share responsibility, Democrats are intent on persuading voters to take their frustrations out on GOP candidates.
“This is what you do when you’ve got nothing else to do,” comments Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center.
Bozell tells Newsmax that the media have failed to hold the Obama administration accountable for policies that have hurt any economic recovery.
“What else can the left do?" Bozell says. "The left is entirely responsible for this disastrous turn of events in the economy.”
Instead of accepting that responsibility, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is launching a campaign called "Accountability August” that targets 44 House Republicans with negative radio ads in their districts.
Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi fired the first salvo Thursday, with a USA Today Op-Ed titled “Unlike GOP, Democrats Will Focus on Jobs.”
Republicans, Pelosi alleged, “have put our economy at risk by threatening a first-ever default on our debt and refusing to propose legislation to create jobs. Instead, they’ve passed bills that would destroy up to 2 million jobs — nearly 10,000 jobs per day. And every time Democrats have brought a jobs initiative to the floor — 10 times so far — Republicans voted ‘no.’”
Obama urged Congress Friday to authorize a tax credit as an incentive to encourage businesses to hire veterans. The measure would provide a $2,400 credit for hiring an unemployed veteran on a short-term basis, and a $9,600 credit to firms that hire a veteran on a long-term basis.
“Both parties share power,” Obama said in a speech delivered at the Washington Naval Yard. “Both parties share responsibility for our progress. Moving our economy and our country forward is not a Democratic or a Republican responsibility, it is not a public or a private responsibility, it is a responsibility of all Americans.”
The speech Friday gave the president another opportunity to pivot to job creation a position himself in a positive light with independent voters, a strategy he employed throughout the debate over raising the debt ceiling.
On Wednesday, Obama appeared to presage Pelosi’s themes, telling reporters that the debt crisis, which he has blamed on House fiscal conservatives, has caused “an unnecessary negative impact on the economy.”
Obama also addressed the recently resolved impasse that temporarily sidelined thousands of FAA workers, calling it “a good example of how undone work here in Washington can have an adverse impact on that economy.”
Obama also mentioned the better-than-expected jobs numbers for July released Friday morning. Non-farm payrolls rose by 117,000 jobs, average hourly earnings grew by 0.4 percent, revisions added 56,000 jobs to the reports issued for May and June, and unemployment dropped from 9.2 to 9.1 percent. That uptick follows a correction on Wall Street that was punctuated by Thursday’s 512-point drop in the Dow.
"This is a fabulous number . . . This month I am totally relieved,” Moody’s chief economist Mark Zandi said on CBNC following the July jobs report. “This is a very big number, it's not only the payrolls it's the revisions, it's the unemployment rate, it's the average hourly earnings. We're not out of the woods yet, but this is a good sign that we are going to avoid a recession."
But as investors signaled on Thursday, and S&P underscored Friday, the economy continues to face significant economic headwinds. Globally, governments are trying to get their balance sheets back in order, and the European Union is fighting to contain a debt crisis that in recent weeks has spread to Spain and Italy as well as Greece, Portugal, and Ireland.
“You know, people talk about the awful Bush years,” Bozell says. “I’d give a thousand dollars for the Bush years right now, and I think anybody in America would,” he said. “This has nothing to do with the Bush years. This has nothing to do with the Republicans. The Republicans don’t control the Congress. The left has controlled it. This is entirely of their making.”
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “Accountability August” campaign aims to portray Republicans to voters as being more interested tax breaks for wealthy interests than in pushing programs to create jobs for the middle class.
The campaign will force Republicans “to explain to their constituents why they voted to end Medicare three times and raise seniors’ healthcare costs,” DCCC Chairman Rep. Steve Israel said.
The ad, which fills in the blank in each of the 44 districts (names listed at bottom of this story) appears designed to capitalize on voter frustration with D.C. politicos in the wake of the debt-ceiling controversy.
"Congressman ______ voted to end Medicare forcing seniors to pay more to protect tax breaks for Big Oil and millionaires," the ad says. "Tell ____ stop choosing millionaires over seniors."
The campaign also will employ billboards and robocalls, according to CNN.com.
Larry J. Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, says the president’s effort to make Republicans accountable for the nation’s economic woes comes as no surprise.
“But it won’t change one unalterable fact. After four years in office, or even three, voters hold a president responsible for the state of the economy. After all, Obama prescribed a big stimulus and other things, most of which were adopted by Congress in his first two years.
“If his prescription didn’t work in the first term,” Sabato tells Newsmax, “why should people believe he’ll get it right in the second? That’s the logic most voters use.
“You can argue all day about whether presidents actually determine economic realities. I don’t think they do, for the most part. But you can be sure of one thing: If the economy were going gangbusters, Obama would be claiming full credit,” he says.
“Accountability August” faces one major rhetorical obstacle, however: President Obama stated shortly after assuming office that he is the one who should be held accountable if the economy doesn’t improve.
I will be held accountable,” Obama told Matt Lauer on the today program in February 2009. “I’ve got four years . . . a year from now I think people are going to see we’re starting to make some progress, but there’s still going to be some pain out there.”
Obama then added: “If I don’t have this done in three years, then this is going to be a one-term proposition.”
But accepting responsibility for the dismal economy is precisely what Democrats and Obama are shirking, Bozell says.
“This is entirely of their making,” he says, “and all they can do is blame, blame, blame others. I’ve never seen a bunch of more petulant, whiny people in my life than out of this administration. Especially out of this White House.
“Tim Geithner, I’ve watched him on national news, and all he can do is whine and blame,” Bozell says. “He blamed Japan! He blamed what happened in Japan! He blamed the weather on the Gulf Coast. They blame everything under the sun.
“Look, Ronald Reagan had problems too, he had a Cold War. Yet he took us to the strongest economic recovery in the history of this nation. You can turn things around. All we have to do is the exact opposite of what Barack Obama’s doing, and we’ll be fine.”
The DCCC lists the following as its targeted House members:
Rick Crawford (AR-01)
Tim Griffin (AR-02)
Paul Gosar (AZ-01)
Dan Lungren (CA-03)
Jeff Denham (CA-19)
Elton Gallegly (CA-24)
David Dreier (CA-26)
Gary Miller (CA-42)
Mary Bono Mack (CA-45)
Brian Bilbray (CA-50)
Scott Tipton (CO-03)
Cory Gardner (CO-04)
Steve Southerland (FL-02)
Dan Webster (FL-08)
Bill Young (FL-10)
Vern Buchanan (FL-13)
David Rivera (FL-25)
Tom Latham (IA-03)
Steve King (IA-04)
Tim Johnson (IL-13)
Bobby Schilling (IL-17)
Larry Bucshon (IN-08)
Andy Barr (KY-06)
Dan Benishek (MI-01)
Thad McCotter (MI-11)
Erik Paulsen (MN-03)
Chip Cravaack (MN-08)
Charlie Bass (NH-02)
Joe Heck (NV-03)
Randy Altschuler (NY-01)
Nan Hayworth (NY-19)
Matthew Doheny (NY-23)
Ann Marie Buerkle (NY-25)
Steve Chabot (OH-01)
Pat Meehan (PA-07)
Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-08)
Lou Barletta (PA-11)
Charlie Dent (PA-15)
Quico Canseco (TX-23)
Blake Farenthold (TX-27)
Scott Rigell (VA-02)
Paul Ryan (WI-01)
Sean Duffy (WI-07)
David McKinley (WV-01)
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