The Republican Jobs Agenda

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH8)

“That’s the cruel irony in Boehner’s tweet. It would be funny, but it represents the massive economic damage that the Republican Party has unnecessarily inflicted on the country the past six years. And that’s not funny at all.”

Danny Vinik

It is easy enough to enjoy something that sounds like refreshing honesty from Speaker Boehner (R-OH8), an admission that the GOP does not have a jobs plan nearly four years after employment and economic concerns won Republicans a majority in the House of Representatives.

(1)(2)(3)(4)(5) #5pts4jobs→Speaker.gov/5pointsCertainly, there have been signs along the way, and many Democratic sympathizers have become familiar with the Maddowism, “Jobs, jobs, jobs, j’abortion”. But beyond the record number of reproductive health prohibition bills sponsored in the states since 2010, Republicans have managed to highlight their own dearth of ideas and actions on the employment front. Northeastern carpetbagger Senate candidate Scott Brown, formerly of Massachusetts and now seeking office in New Hampshire, recently explained his outlook: “Here’s the thing. People say, ‘What are you going to do to create jobs?’ I am not going to create one job, it is not my job to create jobs.” Supporters will certainly point to the rest of the quote, which is about keeping government out of the way because it’s an individual person’s job to create his or her own job. And while that is a tremendously unrealistic outlook in and of itself, a twist of rhetoric conservatives have used for years, Brown’s amateurish phrasing reminds of two things at least; first, the former Senator still isn’t ready for the office, and more importantly to our consideration at the moment, that unreadiness opened him to a Kinsley gaffe. Remember that to Republicans, child labor prohibitions, workplace safety regulations, anti-harassment rules, and the need to pay wages in general are all examples of government getting in the way. If only we would kick the kids out of school and send them to work in unsafe factories and mines where they are vulnerable to bullying, harassment, and exploitation by others, everything in the world would be great. Really, isn’t this the sort of argument we should have settled about our labor politics a generation ago? Except, of course, that some aren’t ready to let go of their hopes for such regal privilege in American society, so here we are amid a slow economic recovery from damage inflicted by related conservative economic policies, Republicans are doing everything they can to stall the recovery and inflict more damage against their society, and all so they can complain about the unemployment rate.

Can we at least stop pretending Republicans are decent people? Sure, say what you will on behalf of the rank and file voters, but this has been going on so long that if they wish to claim some sort of ignorant detachment from the actions of their chosen political representatives they are either lying or in need of psychiatric intervention.

And in the middle of this, Speaker Boehner drops this excremental bomb. It is still unclear why this tweet went out.

Christopher Ingraham attempted to decipher the tweet for Wonkblog:

Indeed, if you click through to the actual plan, you’ll see that it doesn’t contain much more detail ....

.... You have to Google around for the full details, in a policy speech Boehner delivered at the American Enterprise Institute in September.

The five points buried in that are pretty simple: “Reform our tax code”, “Solve our spending problem“, “Reform our legal system”, “Reform our regulatory system”, and “Improve our education system”.

Given the lack of detail, we are left wondering at the poetic justice of the tweet. These are, after all, the same things Republicans always want. Ezra Klein addressed the “now more than ever” argument over three years ago:

Academic books pack about 600 words to a page. Normal books clock in around 400. Large-print books — you know, the ones for kids or the visually impaired — fit about 250. The House GOP’s jobs plan, however, gets about 200 words to a page. The typeface is fit for giants, and the document’s 10 pages are mostly taken up by pictures. It looks like the staffer in charge forgot the assignment was due on Thursday rather than Friday, and so cranked the font up to 24 and began dumping clip art to pad out the plan.

Which is odd, because there’s nothing in this plan that hasn’t been in a thousand other plans. When I asked David Autor, an economist at MIT and a specialist on labor markets, to take a look at the substance, he pronounced it a classic case of “what Larry Summers would call ‘now-more-than-everism.’”

“Here’s how it works,” Autor wrote in am e-mail. “1. You have a set of policies that you favor at all times and under all circumstances, e.g., cut taxes, remove regulations, drill-baby-drill, etc. 2. You see a problem that needs fixing (e.g., the economy stinks). 3. You say, ‘We need to enact my favored policies now more than ever.’ I believe that every item in the GOP list that you sent derives from this three step procedure.

“That’s not to say that there are no reasonable ideas on this list. But there is certainly no original thinking here directed at addressing the employment problem. Or, put it differently, is there any set of economic circumstances under which the GOP would not actually want to enact every item on this agenda? If the answer is no, then this is clearly now-more-than-everism.”

(Boldface accent added)

There is, then, a context suitable for poetic justice; perhaps the Twitter gaffe really was bad copy editing by Boehner staffers, but the end result is a strikingly accurate summary of the GOP’s jobs policies: There’s nothing new here, but we need everything now more than ever.

____________________

Vinik, Danny. “John Boehner Just Admitted on Twitter That Republicans Have No Jobs Plan”. The New Republic. 7 October 2014.

Boehner, John. “(1) (2) (3) (4) (5)”. Twitter. 7 October 2014.

Benen, Steve. “Scott Brown: ‘I am not going to create one job’. msnbc. 4 September 2014.

Ingraham, Christopher. “Does John Boehner’s jobs plan fit in a tweet?”. Wonkblog. 7 October 2014.

Klein, Ezra. “The GOP’s jobs agenda: Now more than ever”. The Washington Post. 26 May 2011.

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